Fill in your email address to obtain the download verification code.
Enter the verification code
Please fill the fields below, & share with us the article's link and/or upload it:
upload file as pdf, doc, docx
SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Social Media Reaction to SKeyes’ Violation Monitoring: Hezbollah’s Cyber Campaign Against MTV

Friday , 08 September 2023

Case Study No. 11: Hezbollah’s Online Campaign Against MTV Following the Kahaleh Truck Incident




Against the backdrop of Lebanon’s ongoing political tensions and the growing involvement of the security apparatus in curtailing public and personal freedoms, the Samir Kassir Foundation (SKF) has expanded its coverage of freedom of expression violations in Lebanon. In this report, we delve into the reactions we observed on SKF’s own social media accounts in addition to the interactions with the hashtag #القناة_الخبيثة (the malicious channel), initiated by Hezbollah’s cyber army following the Hezbollah Secretary General’s speech addressing the Kahaleh incident. Our objective is to gain insight into social media users’ perception of violations, our reporting on the latter, and the overall level of support for freedom of expression in Lebanon.


Our study employs a framework that investigates the position of social media contributors towards the victims of these violations, the presence of hate speech, the discernable political affiliations of audience members, and, when applicable, explores gender perspectives.




On the evening of August 9, 2023, a Hezbollah-owned truck overturned in Kahaleh, causing alarm among the local residents. Tensions escalated as armed individuals ordered everyone on the site to step back, identifying themselves as Hezbollah operatives. The situation further deteriorated as residents insisted on inspecting the truck, leading to a physical confrontation and eventually an armed clash. This clash resulted in the deaths of Fadi Bejjani from the residents’ side and Ahmad Kassir, a Hezbollah militant.


On August 14, Hezbollah’s Secretary General, Hassan Nasrallah, addressed the Kahaleh incident, and accused MTV station for the bloodshed that night by referring to it as “القناة الخبيثة” or “The malicious channel.” Nasrallah claimed that there were no armed confrontations in Kahaleh except when MTV’s crew arrived at the scene and incited residents against Hezbollah’s militants. However, MTV later aired a report during their news broadcast, proving that their crew arrived after the clash had ended, completely refuting Nasrallah’s narrative.


Meanwhile, Hezbollah's online supporters launched an online campaign across all social media platforms, using the hashtag #القناة_الخبيثة, which quickly went viral on X. Remarkably, while the hashtag was included in only 250 original posts, extensive “reposting” (retweeting) activities catapulted it into a trending topic for the subsequent 48 hours.




On August 15, SKF’s SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom published a Facebook post around the incident and initiated a monitoring process for the hashtag #القناة_الخبيثة. In the following sections, we will examine the most pertinent comments received on the post during the weeks following its publication, along with the interactions related to the aforementioned hashtag on X. Our sample includes 400 chronological Facebook comments and 250 X posts. The analysis results are presented below.

Fig.1 - Position towards the victim of the violation on Facebook


After analyzing 400 comments from as many accounts, the results revealed that 49.5% (198) did not align with the narrative presenting the TV station as a victim of the violation. In contrast, 40.3% (161) of the accounts condemned the campaign directed at the TV station. A smaller proportion, 10.3% (41), maintained a neutral stance on the matter.

Fig.2 - Position towards the victim of the violation among hashtag users on X


Upon analyzing the 250 posts that included the hashtag #القناة_الخبيثة, it became evident that nearly all of the users, accounting for 99.2% (248), portrayed the TV station as the villain in the narrative. In stark contrast, a mere 0.8% (2) of the interactions with this hashtag were condemning the online attack on MTV.

Fig.3 - Use of hate speech on Facebook


Within the pool of 400 analyzed Facebook accounts, 15% (40) included comments containing hate speech, while a significant majority of 85% (360) contributed comments that were devoid of hate speech.

Fig.4 - Use of hate speech among hashtag users on X


Among the 250 X accounts under analysis, 18.4% (46) of them posted content containing hate speech, while a substantial majority of 81.6% (360) posted content free from hate speech.

Fig.5 - Facebook commenters’ visible political affiliation


Among the 400 analyzed Facebook accounts, 24% (84) were found to be affiliated with Hezbollah, 1.4% (5) showed affiliations with the Amal Movement, and 1.8% (6) demonstrated connections with the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) and Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party. Notably, it is worth highlighting that nearly 50% (31) of the accounts employing hate speech were affiliated with this coalition, reinforcing a recurring pattern observed in SKF’s prior reports, which underscores the frequent use of hate speech by commenters affiliated with the March 8 coalition. The remaining employing hate speech (29 accounts) did not display any overt political affiliations, but most of them echoed the discourse used by users associated with the aforementioned parties.


On the other hand, 7.7% (27) showed affiliations with the Lebanese Forces, all of whom promoted stances in support of MTV and condemned Hezbollah’s actions. Additionally, only one account showed an affiliation with the Future Movement and also sided with the victim of the violation, all without resorting to hate speech.

Fig.6 - Political affiliation of hashtag users on X


Among the 250 analyzed X accounts, an overwhelming 96.8% (242) exhibited affiliations with Hezbollah, and all of them were demonizing MTV. Furthermore, 95.6% (44) of the accounts that used hate speech in their posts were linked to Hezbollah. In contrast, a mere 2.4% (6) of the accounts displayed affiliations with FPM, with two of them constituting the remaining 4.4% of accounts employing hate speech but lacking affiliation with Hezbollah. Conversely, only 0.8% (2) did not display any discernible political affiliations but attempted to refute Hezbollah’s narrative while using the hashtag.

Fig.7 - Facebook commenters’ visible gender


In the analysis of the 400 Facebook accounts, 57.5% (229) were identified as males. Among those who took a stance against the victim of the violation, 70% (139) were males, and 78.3% (47) of the users who engaged in hate speech were also males. On the other hand, 42.5% (169) of the accounts belonged to females. Among those who took a stance against the victim of the violation, 29.7% (59) were females, and 21.6% (13) of the users who employed hate speech were females.

Fig.8 - Visible gender of hashtag users on X


Among the 250 X contributions under analysis, 63.2% (158) were attributed to males. Among those who took a stance against the victim of the violation, 63.3% (157) were males, and 73.9% (34) of the users who employed hate speech were also males. In contrast, 31.2% (78) of the analyzed tweet authors were females. Among those who took a stance against the victim of the violation, 31.04% (77) were females, while 21.73% (10) of the users that engaged in hate speech were females. Finally, 5.6% (14) of the contributions came from accounts with unspecified gender identities. All of these accounts were against the victim of violation, with two of them resorting to hate speech in their posts.




In conclusion, the findings of this report reaffirm the conclusions drawn in our report titled “48 Hours of Ongoing Death Threats.” These findings underscore the persistent use of social media manipulation tactics, such as spamming and the utilization of anonymous accounts primarily dedicated to reposting content aligned with Hezbollah’s narrative.


It is particularly intriguing to observe the extent to which Hezbollah’s cyber army has fostered an illusionary environment within the realm of X (and formerly Twitter). Through a comparative analysis of data collected from both X and Facebook, we gain valuable insights into the diversity of opinions within the Lebanese public sphere. This becomes evident as we examine the public’s engagement with SKeyes’ posts on Facebook, where the data breakdown of this sample underscores a wider range of political perspectives.


In stark contrast, the data originating from X, which is the preferred area of operation for Hezbollah-orchestrated campaigns, paints a picture of virtual dominance for Hezbollah's narrative. This strategic approach has been consistently employed by Hezbollah over several years, effectively stifling X as a virtual space that activists rely on to freely express their opinions.


SKF aims for the series of reports presented under the UNDEF-funded project “Social Media Reaction to SKeyes’ Violation Monitoring” to raise awareness among the public regarding the cyber campaigns employed by the political establishment to create the illusion of political dominance.

This report was made possible through support from the UN Democracy Fund.

Share News