How Israel Uses Fake Social Media Accounts to Promote Allegations against UNRWA – Report

A report exposes Israel's use of social media accounts to spread disinformation online. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Over 500 different ‘avatars’, or fake accounts, were found on Facebook, Instagram and X, according to Haaretz.

Social media researchers have found an Israeli influence operation that used fake accounts on a number of platforms to spread Israeli allegations against UNRWA, the newspaper Haaretz reported.

According to Haaretz, the campaign was aimed at “amplifying claims and reports regarding the involvement of UNRWA workers” in the October 7 operation carried out by the Palestinian Resistance movement Hamas in southern Israel.

The Israeli disinformation watchdog group Fake Reporter reportedly found that three ‘news sites’ had been “created especially for the operation”.

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“The sites published reports that were copied from other, real news outlets, among them CNN and The Guardian,” the report explained.

Then, hundreds of fake accounts “intensively promoted” content from these websites, along with “screen captures from real ones”.

Hundreds of ‘Avatars’

Over 500 different ‘avatars’, or fake accounts, were found on Facebook, Instagram and X, according to Haaretz.

“They pushed out posts with almost identical wording and links to what Fake Reporter called the ‘three main assets’ in the influence operation: UnFold Magazine, Non-Agenda and The Moral Alliance,” the report noted.

Haaretz reported that “the operation began a few weeks after the war broke out and is still active today.”

During the first weeks of the war, the content published by the ‘three assets’ was described by Haaretz as “being of interest to general progressive audiences.”

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“The different avatars retweeted, shared and posted similarly worded posts, and many began their digital lives with a declaration of identity,” the report said.

The avatar shared content on a variety of topics, “including lack of safety for Jewish Americans on college campuses and discrimination against Jewish students”.

Content “dealing directly with the Gaza war” was taken from other websites, like the Jewish Chronicle, the Jerusalem Post, along with mainstream Western media that were “considered liberal-leaning, like CNN, The Guardian and others.”

‘Democrats Lawmakers’

At the end of January, according to Haaretz, “the campaign pivoted toward a much more political topic: (…) UNRWA, its staff members’ ties to Hamas and their role” in the October 7 events.

“After UNRWA’s announcement of the investigation and news that donors were halting funding, on January 28, the influence network’s avatars and assets began pushing out content about UNRWA”.

Hundreds of avatars began to “inorganically amplify the assets’ posts, and they responded to U.S. lawmakers, influencers and prominent news outlets on social media with almost identical comments regarding the ‘shocking’ and ‘disturbing revelations made in the report.”

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In fact, according to the report, “the people targeted the most with such comments by the campaign’s avatars were American politicians, specifically the social media accounts of Democratic lawmakers”.

Since the start of the war, tensions have been growing within the Democratic party. 

A recent poll by the Wall Street Journal found that disapproval of Biden’s handling of the war is at 60%, eight points higher than a previous poll conducted in December. 

The newspaper noted that the high level of disapproval has made its way to the ballot box, with more than 100,000 people voting “uncommitted” in Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary, many in protest at the president’s policies on Israel.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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