Exposed: Fake twitter campaign to boycott Eurovision operated by bots

“We have now proven that the boycott organizations are not only anti-Semitic and support terror, but lie and fabricate support for their agenda,” Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan stated.

By World Israel News Staff

Minister Gilad Erdan’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs on Thursday revealed a report showing a synchronized campaign on Twitter of hundreds of fake and bot accounts, under the hashtag #BoycottEurovision2019, against this year’s Eurovision song contest.

Beginning in November 2018, the Ministry launched an in-depth examination of the social media influence campaign to boycott the 2019 Eurovision song contest, held in Israel, leading to its release by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs titled, “The Big Scam- How BDS is Manipulating Social Media against Eurovision 2019.”

The report revealed data indicating the use of a number of fraudulent methods – including bots and fake accounts using “Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior” to create the appearance of an authentic and widespread campaign, while hoping to manipulate public opinion, against artists performing at this year’s Eurovision.

Among the performers targeted were Madonna, Bilal Hassani (France), Alessandro Mahmoud (Italy), Michael Rice (UK) and Sarah McTernan (Ireland), as well as participating countries’ broadcast authorities.

Potential reach of 9.7 million

It is estimated that the tweets had a potential reach of 9.7 million users.

The campaign was originally launched under the hashtag #BoycottEurovision2019 by PACBI (Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel), an organization operating from Ramallah with close ties with the PNIF (Palestinian National Islamic Forces). It is comprised of five terror groups, including Hamas, the PFLP and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Two #BoycottEurovision2019 Twitter storms were also discovered to have been organized by an organization called #GroupPalestine.

#BoycottEurovision2019 is the most recent example of fraudulent methods used against artists planning on performing in Israel. Past cases include a fake-user Twitter campaign launched late last year against singer Lana Del Rey, in which Twitter bots were found to have partaken in pressuring the artist to cancel her planned visit. Such actions are in line with practices employed by the cultural boycott campaign against artists and cultural figures intending to perform in Israel – ranging from exerting indirect pressure to behind-the-scenes physical threats to the individual or his/her family, intimidation and shaming.

According to the Big Scam report, 191 fake accounts took part in the #GroupPalestine Eurovision boycott campaign, 157 of them bots. It also exposed that the current boycott Eurovision campaign was carried out with the support of Bassem Na’im, a senior official in the terrorist group Hamas who holds the group’s BDS portfolio. Na’im participated in two “Twitter storms” (Feb 24, 2019 and March 23, 2019) targeting artists participating in Eurovision 2019.

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Dozens of accounts closed

Information about the fraudulent accounts was sent to Twitter for further processing. To date, 57 of the accounts whose details have been transferred have been closed or removed.

“BDS activists are trying every deceptive method to attack Israel, even when dealing with a contest that is supposed to unite people and cultures. We have now proven that the boycott organizations are not only anti-Semitic and support terror, but lie and fabricate support for their agenda,” Erdan stated.

“I am happy that this year’s participants did not surrender to the lies and bigotry and are coming to the Eurovision in Israel,” he added. “I hope that other artists planning on coming will understand that there is no extensive support for BDS. It’s all just a fake campaign.”

Source: Israel Government Press Office