Israel runs covert influence campaign targeting US lawmakers, report

Operation uses hundreds of fake online accounts to spread pro-Israel messaging but does not succeed in accumulating followers; Diaspora Ministry denies involvement  

The Israeli government has been running a covert online influence campaign targeting US lawmakers and public, using fake accounts, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.
The campaign was launched by Stoic, a political marketing firm hired for that purpose by the Diaspora Ministry at the cost of some $2 million, to spread pro-Israel messaging.
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עמיחי שיקלי
עמיחי שיקלי
Diaspora Minister Amichai Chikli
(Photo: Moshe Mizrahi)
"At its peak, it used hundreds of fake accounts that posed as real Americans on X, Facebook and Instagram to post pro-Israel comments. The accounts focused on U.S. lawmakers, particularly ones who are Black and Democrats," the New York Times said.
The report relied on documents and on information provided by four Israeli officials, but the Diaspora Ministry denied their involvement in the campaign.
"Last week, Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, and OpenAI, which makes ChatGPT, said they had also found and disrupted the operation," the Times wrote.
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(Photo: Reuters)
“Israel’s role in this is reckless and probably ineffective,” said Achiya Schatz, executive director of FakeReporter, which according to the report had identified the campaign last March. "[That Israel] ran an operation that interferes in U.S. politics is extremely irresponsible.”
According to the report, the campaign was not a success. "The fake accounts accumulated more than 40,000 followers across X, Facebook and Instagram, FakeReporter found. But many of those followers may have been bots and didn’t generate a large audience, Meta said."
Meta said it had removed 510 Facebook accounts, 11 Facebook pages, 32 Instagram accounts and one Facebook group tied to the operation, the paper said. adding that OpenAI said Stoic had created fictional personas and biographies meant to stand in for real people on social media services to post anti-Islamic messages. Many of the posts remain on X.
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