Podcast Ep 7: Behind Israel’s troll army

5 July 2019 — The Electronic Intifada Podcast

On episode 7, Nora Barrows-Friedman and Asa Winstanley host a discussion about Act.IL, an online influence campaign funded by the Israeli government.

They are joined by Michael Bueckert, who’s been behind some of the most vital research on the group, publishing much of it to his @AntiBDSApp Twitter account.

Bueckert tells us how he first got interested in looking into this organization, and we discuss to what extent Israel is actively involved in directing its operations.

As Asa recently reported, Act.IL says its goal is to “influence foreign publics” and “battle” BDS – the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian rights.

Through its app, Act.IL issues “missions” to this troll army in exchange for “cool prizes” and scholarships.

A leaked report claims Act.IL’s app completes 1,580 such “missions” every week.

“A lot of the power of the app comes from concealing or sort of obscuring the real authors behind a lot of this content to try to make it appear as though it is organic, spontaneous online activity … when it is actually choreographed and directed by this app,” Bueckert tells The Electronic Intifada Podcast.

Articles we discussed

Music: “The Death of Neoliberalism” by Lowkey

Image: Still from a video on Act.IL’s YouTube channel

Production assistance by Sharif Zakout

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