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False Flag? Facebook says it deleted fake profiles calling to harm Israel's prime minister

Social media giant’s Israel office says profiles inciting against Benjamin Netanyahu, comparing him to Hitler were fabricated

CTech 14:0307.08.20
Facebook revealed on Friday that three profiles behind posts inciting against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, including one that compared him to Adolf Hitler, were found to be fake.

 

"An investigation by our global teams determined that the three profiles are suspected of being fabricated and they have been removed from the platform,” Facebook’s Israel office said in a statement.

Benjamin Nenatyahu superimposed on images from a rally against him. Photo: Orel Cohen Benjamin Nenatyahu superimposed on images from a rally against him. Photo: Orel Cohen

 

The posts, which Netanyahu himself complained about to the police, have sparked controversy in Israel. Netanyahu supporters say they pose a genuine risk to Netanyahu and his family and have called on his political opponents to condemn them. Some of his critics, however, suspect the posts were uploaded by ‘false flag’ accounts set up to undermine authentic criticism of Netanyahu and his policies.

 

For the last several weeks, protests against the long-serving prime-minister have gained momentum, with thousands attending weekly rallies blasting him for his handling of the Covid-19 crisis and his alleged corruption. Netanyahuis standing trial after being indicted on counts of accepting bribes, committing fraud and breach of trust.

 

Last Thursday, Facebook said it deleted an account that posted a comment calling for the assassination of Netanyahu because it has found it to be fake. “In addition,” the company stated, “the comment in question also violated our policy concerning calls for violence and was subsequently deleted along with the account used to publish it.”

 

The post read that Netanyahu “should be taken down by force” and that “dictators can only be taken down with a bullet to the head.”

 

Netanyahu had tweeted a screenshot of the comment claiming he plans to report the matter to the police.

 

“The investigation of the incident in Tel Aviv is underway. I expect the police to get at the truth and bring to justice those responsible. There’s no room for violence for any reason. At the same time, there’s no room for incitement or threats of murder — explicitly or implicitly — against me and members of my family,” he wrote.

 

An investigation by Israel police found that Dana Ron, the person under whose name the inciting post was uploaded, was an Israel ex-pat who has been living in Australia for decades.

 

Activist and independent journalist Yossi Dorfman has been actively investigating the suspicious accounts and highlighted some of the characteristics that led him to the conclusion that they were fake, such as a recently added profile photo, a discrepancy between the age of the person in the photo and the age as it appears in the user’s profile, and a small number of 'friends'.