In today’s digital age, the dissemination of misinformation and disinformation has become a pressing concern and, for many, an unfortunate reality. The National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a civic organization established in 2001, has been dedicated to empowering and amplifying the voices of the Iranian American community. For two decades, NIAC has played a pivotal role in preventing conflicts with Iran, advocating for human rights in Iran, championing civil rights domestically, and undertaking numerous other impactful initiatives. However, the organization has faced persistent challenges from coordinated disinformation attacks online and during public events. False and discredited claims that NIAC was aligned with the Iranian regime spread rapidly across online platforms. The crisis intensified in September 2022, as news of Mahsa Amini’s tragic killing by the Iranian regime surfaced. The attacks on NIAC grew exponentially, coinciding with the emergence of the Woman, Life, Freedom movement on the streets of Iran. These baseless accusations falsely claimed that NIAC was sympathetic to the regime, placing the organization in its most substantial crisis to date.
Kinetic’s crisis response revolved around three core pillars: empathy, transparency, and frequent communication. We facilitated regular “Updates from the President” to keep stakeholders well-informed and provided increased updates through the Human Rights Tracker, highlighting NIAC’s accomplishments and core principles.
Our team closely monitored social media mentions and provided leadership with analytics and sentiment reports. To combat misinformation, we collaborated with the organizing team to establish a truth squad, reporting and addressing false or misleading content. Additionally, we created creative assets to disseminate crucial updates about NIAC’s work and developed a comprehensive microsite, NIACtruth.org, featuring detailed facts about the organization, its initiatives, and the discrediting attacks.
By implementing the outlined strategies, NIAC successfully provided regular and transparent updates to stakeholders, including donors, instilling confidence and presenting a comprehensive roadmap for supporting the Woman, Life, Freedom movement in Iran. NIAC engaged in a multi-channel effort to both inform existing audiences and reach new ones, taking back control of the narrative. Through a fact-based campaign utilizing text messages and emails, the organization countered smears and misinformation. During the peak of misinformation, NIAC received 79k website visitors and faced a surge in negative sentiment across online channels. In response, Kinetic quickly transformed the website into a “Solidarity Center,” serving as a centralized resource presenting NIAC’s work supporting the people of Iran in a clear and accessible format. By adopting this multifaceted strategy, NIAC is successfully rebuilding trust, reestablishing credibility, and maintaining its position as the largest Iranian American civic society organization in the United States.