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Israel's Secret Influence Campaign Targets US Lawmakers Amid Gaza War
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By Anthony Haddad
Published 2 days ago on
June 10, 2024

Israel's covert $2 million influence campaign, employing fake social media accounts, AI-generated content, and fabricated news sites, targeted U.S. lawmakers and the public during the Gaza conflict, ultimately exposed for its operational flaws. (Shutterstock)

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In an effort to sway opinion in the United States, Israel launched a covert influence campaign last year, The New York Times reports. The newspaper’s investigation found that Israel allocated about $2 million to disseminate pro-Israel messages targeting American lawmakers and the public during the Gaza conflict.

Israel Leverages Social Media to Influence U.S. Politicians

Spearheaded by the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, the operation engaged Stoic, a Tel Aviv-based political marketing firm, to orchestrate the campaign, leveraging social media platforms and even artificial intelligence-generated content.

The endeavor, which began in October and continued through subsequent months, relied heavily on hundreds of fake social media accounts posing as authentic American individuals across platforms like X, Facebook, and Instagram.

These accounts strategically engaged with targeted U.S. lawmakers, notably focusing on figures such as Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Ritchie Torres, as well as Senator Raphael Warnock, urging them to support Israel’s military endeavors in Gaza.

The Campaign Made Three Fake News Sites

The campaign also established three fabricated English-language news sites, such as Non-Agenda and UnFold Magazine, which repurposed and reworked content from reputable sources like CNN and The Wall Street Journal to propagate Israel’s stance during the conflict.

Despite these efforts, the operation’s execution was marred by inconsistencies, including mismatched profile pictures and awkwardly constructed language in posts.

Although the extent of the campaign’s impact remains debatable, its exposure sheds light on the increasingly sophisticated tactics employed by nations to influence foreign public opinion, particularly through the utilization of social media and AI technology.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, in conjunction with OpenAI, disclosed their intervention to disrupt the operation, which they attributed to Stoic. However, both the Israeli government and Stoic have disavowed direct involvement in the campaign.

Experts note that while such covert governmental initiatives are not unprecedented, their detection and attribution are often challenging. The revelation shows concerns regarding foreign interference in domestic affairs, with implications for diplomatic relations and public discourse.

Read more at The New York Times.

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Anthony Haddad,
Multimedia Journalist
Anthony W. Haddad, who graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with his undergraduate degree and has an MBA at Fresno State, is the Swiss Army knife of GV Wire. He writes stories, manages social media, and represents the organization on the ground.

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