Facebook exposes Israeli campaign to influence Asian, African and Latin American elections
Facebook's cybersecurity policy chief Nathaniel Gleicher told journalists that the tech giant has removed at least 65 Israeli accounts, 161 pages, dozens of groups and four Instagram accounts, most of them linked to the Archimedes Group, a Tel Aviv-based political consulting and lobbying firm.
Nathaniel, however, didn’t ascertain that either the Archimedes Group’s motives to control election campaigns are commercial or political; but he said that the tech giant discovered "coordinated inauthentic behaviour," with accounts manipulating public opinion spreading leaked information.
The Tel Aviv-based political consulting and lobbying firm targeted Sub-Saharan African countries, parts of Southeast Asia and Latin America, with 2.8 million followers and a countless number of views Gleicher said by adding that Archimedes had spent a huge amount of more than $800,000 on fake ads and on its deceptive activity since 2012.
Facebook banned Archimedes after it faced pressure to take concrete measures to counter misinformation intended to manipulate the elections process especially since the revelation that Russia used Facebook to influence the 2016 US presidential election.
On its webpage, Archimedes presents little information as it presented itself as a consulting firm involved in presidential elections campaigns under the slogan "winning campaigns worldwide," and claimed to enable operation of an "unlimited" number of online accounts under group's "mass social media management" software.
The site, featuring a montage of stock photos from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, boasts of its "own unique field within the social media realm" and its efforts to "take every advantage available in order to change reality according to our client's wishes."
According to Swiss negotiations consultancy Negotiations.CH, Archimedes' chief executive is Elinadav Heymann. Company's website describes him as the former director of the Brussels-based European Friends of Israel lobbying group, a former political adviser in Israel's parliament and an ex-intelligence agent for the Israeli Air Force.
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