Meta report reveals anti-UNRWA campaign linked to Israeli firm


A new report by Meta reveals that a cross-internet operation which targeted several social media platforms over the war on Gaza had links to an Israel based firm [Getty]

A new report published by Meta has revealed that a cross-internet operation which targeted several social media platforms over the war on Gaza had links to STOIC, a political marketing and business intelligence firm based in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Meta, which states the accounts are now banned form its platform, added that they issued a cease-and-desist letter to STOIC, demanding they immediately stop activity that violate their policies.

Some of the posts linked to STOIC tried to defame the¬†United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which Israel has long campaigned against and is now moving to label as a “terrorist” organisation.

Others called for the release of captives held in Gaza, praised Israel’s army, and criticised US campus protests which demanded a ceasefire and divestment from Israel.

The report found that individuals behind the operation used fake and compromised accounts, to comment on Facebook pages of international and local media organisations, as well on as accounts of political and public figures, including US lawmakers.

The comments included links to the operation’s websites and were sometimes generated using artificial intelligence.

As the accounts were being deleted and disabled by automated systems, the people behind them kept adding others using account farms. The accounts also purchased inauthentic engagement, including likes and followers, to make them appear more popular than they were.

Many of the accounts posed as locals in the countries they targeted, including as Jewish students, African Americans and ‘concerned’ citizens.

 

Meta said it started investigating the activity after reviewing public reporting about inauthentic behaviour on X by DFRLab.

Following the release of the report, rights groups led a Digital Day of Action to demand Meta end the censorship and discrimination against Palestinian users and respond to the demands of the Let Palestine Speak campaign.

“Meta has a clear obligation under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to protect the rights of all of its users,” Nadim Nashif, the general director of 7amleh, a digital rights organisation said.

Prior to the Day of Action, over 150 Meta workers signed a letter to Meta workers signed a letter to Mark Zuckerberg demanding Meta immediately drop its policies censoring Palestinians and Palestinian rights speech.



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