How a “Political Astroturfing” App Coordinates Pro-Israel Influence Operations

“…a pro-Israel smartphone app that seeds and amplifies pro-Israel messages across social media — saw its first major test in May 2019. It offered a glimpse of the novel methods by which future influence campaigns will
be conducted and information wars won…[the app] assigns users a series of ‘missions’ — typically a comment, retweet, or ‘like’ — intended to boost pro-Israel content across multiple platforms. Through these missions, Act.IL claims to have reached millions of people.”

—Emerson T. Brooking of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, “How a ‘Political Astroturfing’ App Coordinates Pro-Israel Influence Operations.” Medium.com. August 19, 2019.

Also:

“One of the most unique aspects in our activity is our “no-logo” strategy. The no-logo strategy allows anyone to use our content, [sic] and makes it easier than ever to reach audiences that aren’t necessarily pro Israel since they look at the content without a bias that is based on who created the content.”

—Act.IL internal documentation quoted in ibid.

Astroturf, pretending to be or hiding behind a third party to obscure identities and sources of information isn’t unique, it’s what defines astroturf. It’s manipulative, jackass behavior that works only when it isn’t found out. When it is discovered, it reflects poorly both on its origin and the interests they are attempting to promote. Choosing this approach says a lot about someone’s character.

One thought on “How a “Political Astroturfing” App Coordinates Pro-Israel Influence Operations

  1. Two of four of these comments were liked by a largely identical list of Facebook pages. These pages are broadly pro-Israel. One, “We Do Remember Khaybar,” is explicitly Islamophobic. It is likely that these pages are under the operation of the same individual or a group that coordinates through the Act.IL app. No such links are disclosed on the pages themselves.

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