A picture that shows that some Photoshopping was used to make the crowd at a pro-Ahmedinejad rally look bigger is racing around the Internet right now. We have no idea where it's from (anyone read Farsi?) but everyone's screaming propaganda!

Which it probably is! But the Internet is full of fake shit, which people mostly (if they're smart) just ignore. Last July, when Iran docotored a missile test photo to make it look 33% scarier, it ended up on the home page of the New York Times, a place that has a general disregard for fake shit.

As near as we can tell, this crowd photo first showed up on a blog belonging to an Iranian photographer (that's because one of the only English words on the site is "Photographer"). And now Boing Boing and Gizmodo and DailyKos and everyone else is reprinting it as if it is a revelation that has effectively changed the debate about Iran and its theocratic regime.

Of course, we also know nothing about this particular image. Was it printed in a national newspaper? Dropped in a leaflet? Ginned up on someone's home computer? Who knows! And, probably who cares. You don't need a clumsily manipulated photo to know that the Iranian regime engages in propaganda.

Either way, this little episode is not really a big deal. Except, it's kind of depressing to see the same knee-jerk Internet hysteria that gripped the U.S. during last year's presidential election (backwards B!) now become The Way We Make Social Media Matter Now.

All the attention to the Iranian crowd photo has overwhelmed the site it was originally posted on. Or Iranian security has taken it down. But here's a screencap of the text describing it. Anyone who can translate, please let us know in comments what he/she said about it:

Update: Commenter MarkFL offers this kinda translation of the text:

It's basically saying that this image was published on the front page of كيهان (Kayhan), which is one of the main Iranian newspapers. Kayhan is very loyal to Ahmadinejad, so it's not really a surprise that they would try to make the number of his supporters larger.

Here's Wikipedia (because I'm not even going to pretend like I'm a sudden Iranian media expert) explanation of Kayhan, which says the paper is controlled by the Iranian government.

Another update: An Iranian reader kindly sends in this translation:

At the very top of the paper: "People's Support in Tehran for Ahmadinejad"
And main text: "And another interesting debate which was about to be hidden from our eyes. Yesterday in Keyhan paper (state paper) in the first page had this photograph and in this manner he tried to publicise a massive support for himself. It's obvious that the image must have had a white margin around it which they decided to fill with protesters. I hope that we always move in the direction of truth with eyes on precision even if we feel our interests are threatened."