April 24, 2019

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Twitter Network Uses Fake Accounts to Promote Netanyahu, Israel Watchdog Finds

Twitter Network Uses Fake Accounts to Promote Netanyahu, Israel Watchdog Finds
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In a later text message, Mr. Haddad wrote: “There is absolutely nothing in this. Anyone publishing this nonsense can expect a very large lawsuit.”

“You have no right to gag people on the right or on the left, period,” he added, “and the organization that is busy identifying accounts, who are they at all to decide for the open and free world?”

Mr. Urich, the Likud party spokesman, said that he did not know Mr. Haddad, and that Mr. Haddad was not employed by the Likud party and had no connection with Likud.

The network’s messages have been redistributed by prominent figures in the Likud campaign team. Yair Netanyahu, an unofficial adviser to his father’s campaign, has retweeted the network’s members 154 times, the report said. Similarly, the network “liked” and replied to his messages 1,481 times, and shared his messages 429 times.

Yair Netanyahu did not reply to a request for comment. Mr. Urich, speaking on his behalf, said, “Yair Netanyahu has no role in the Likud campaign, does not know the people of the network and is not involved in its activities, if any.”

Some of the tweets that include curse words and anti-Arab slurs are written using numbers that look like letters in the Hebrew alphabet, apparently so that a Twitter audit would not identify them as inappropriate and shut down the account.

There have been efforts to update Israeli election law to cover relatively recent developments in social media. After the work of a special panel headed by a former Supreme Court chief justice, Dorit Beinisch, an amendment to the law was proposed to cover social media.

The Likud party opposed the amendment and it did not pass.

Karine Nahon, president of the Israel Internet Association, who was a member of the Beinish panel, said: “We made a great effort to submit the recommendations as soon as possible so that legislation could already be enacted in the coming elections. But when a first reading bill was about to be voted on, the Likud decided in the middle of the night to remove it from the agenda.”

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