OpenAI uncovers political influence operations around the world

Who’s behind the Israeli startup blacklisted by Meta and OpenAI?

According to an investigation published by Meta, Stoic, founded by Ido Stossel, operated a network of hundreds of fictitious Facebook and Instagram accounts in the US and Canada. OpenAI reported that Stoic used its generative artificial intelligence models to produce content for influence campaigns against Hamas and Qatar, in favor of Israel, and also in favor of the Histadrut.

An Israeli company named Stoic received a particularly dubious honor over the last week: it was prominently featured, not in a positive sense, in reports by technology giants Meta and OpenAI. These reports addressed the online activities of hostile parties who misused their platforms.
Meta detailed how Stoic operated a network of hundreds of fictitious Facebook and Instagram accounts in the U.S. and Canada. OpenAI reported that Stoic used its generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) models to produce content for influence campaigns against Hamas and Qatar, in favor of Israel, the ruling party in India, and the Histadrut.
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OpenAI uncovers political influence operations around the world
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Who is Stoic? Who are the people behind it? Who are its clients and whom does it serve? Information in this context is sparse. The company's online presence is minimal. A search in the company registry did not reveal any evidence of its existence. The company's website contains only general information about its activities, and its LinkedIn page is no longer available (although links to it still exist in search engines).
According to its website, Stoic was founded in 2017 by "a team of experienced political and business strategists who identified the need for an advanced system that can incorporate data analysis, BI models and AI technology all in one place." However, a source told "Calcalist" that the company was actually only established during the pandemic.
The services offered by Stoic, according to its website, include a campaign management system (possibly similar to Elector's system); political research about political opponents and their campaigns, based on online and offline information; and a system called Stoic AI, which according to the site, is "the best generative AI content creation system specifically designed for issue-based campaign malmanagement teams, PR companies, and any users that need their content to interact with the fast pace of current events online."
The description of the operation of this system has many similarities to the accusations leveled against the company in the Meta and OpenAI reports. For example, according to the company, the system "automatically creates targeted content in text, images and video formats and adjust the message to the relevant topics and trends" (according to OpenAI, Stoic used its models to create content for various influence campaigns it ran). This content is "generated by the system automatically and organically distributed to all relevant platform" (according to Meta, Stoic used the network of fictitious accounts it managed to distribute its content).
The founder and CEO of Stoic is Ido Stossel, a veteran political activist in Israel. In 2018, Stossel was part of an organization called "Local Leadership - Changing the Equation" (which also operated under the name "Local"), established to create a network of elected officials in local authorities. The movement was registered as a party and in the 2018 municipal elections, it presented candidates in nine local authorities, succeeding in getting representatives into councils in eight municipalities. However, the initiative did not last long, and in the municipal elections held this year, not a single representative ran on its behalf (some of the representatives were re-elected under other lists).
Stossel also served as a consultant in the Labor Party campaign in the elections held in March of that year and was one of several Israeli consultants who worked with the Socialist Party in Albania in the April 2021 elections (the party won the election). This information was first published on the Zman Israel website. According to his LinkedIn page, Stossel previously served as a political advisor to MK Stav Shaffir during her tenure as a member of the Knesset and was the CEO of the Bezalel Student Union. He was also active in the youth wing of the Labor movement. Stossel has a bachelor's degree in philosophy and politics from the Hebrew University, where he established an anti-racism study program for high school students.
Another prominent employee of the company is Igal Nevo, who, according to his LinkedIn page, has been serving as vice president for business development and sales at Stoic since November of this year. Nevo has extensive experience in the political system, having served as a parliamentary assistant to then MK Robert Ilatov, a lobbyist, director of development and external relations at the Public Trust Organization, and CEO of the Israeli Blockchain Forum. Several direct inquiries to Nevo remained unanswered.
In response to Calcalist's inquiry, Stoic did not comment on the claims made by Meta and OpenAI in their reports or provide details regarding the scope and type of its activities or its clients. OpenAI's report pointed to one possible customer of the company in Israel: the Histadrut. According to the report, Stoic's activities included creating social media posts in Hebrew that praised the Histadrut and its leadership.
The Histadrut responded: "The Histadrut has never hired the services of the company. I have never sat down or talked with its people. I am not familiar with these things and I only learned about them when you contacted me."
Stoic's media advisor, Haim Greidinger, said in response: "No comment."