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As the US Battled the Coronavirus Pandemic, Twitter Accounts Linked to Iran Tried to Boost the Idea of an Independent California



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LONDON — As the coronavirus pandemic brought death and misery across the US, a group of Iran-linked Twitter and Instagram accounts aggressively pushed for California to secede from the United States.
Marc Owen Jones, a professor of Middle Eastern studies in Doha, Qatar, analyzed thousands of posts and found evidence of coordinated activity that he says is intended to sow discord and unrest in the US at a perceived time of weakness.
Jones analyzed some 16,000 tweets, including replies and retweets, from more than 8,000 accounts using the hashtag #calexit, mostly on April 6 and 7.
Based on his analysis, he told BuzzFeed News there is strong evidence of inauthentic activity, including that 8% of the accounts sending the tweets were created in early April.
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