How Israel is using AI to try to get Americans on its side

How Israel is using AI to try to get Americans on its side
  • Israel ran a secret influence campaign to gain US support for its war in Gaza.

  • Israel's Ministry of Diaspora Affairs commissioned the $2 million scheme, The New York Times reported.

  • The campaign used hundreds of phony social media accounts to target US lawmakers and the general public.

Israel tried to drum up American support for its war in Gaza with a secret influence campaign targeting US lawmakers and civilians, according to The New York Times.

Israel's Ministry of Diaspora Affairs commissioned the scheme and funded it to the tune of $2 million, hiring a political marketing firm called Stoic to carry out the operation on social media, Israeli officials told the Times.

With the help of AI, the campaign created hundreds of phony accounts pretending to be pro-Israel Americans on Facebook, as well as on X, Instagram, and YouTube, Meta announced in a report published last week.

Some of the accounts targeted over a dozen members of Congress — particularly Democrats like New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, and New York Representative Ritchie Torres — pressuring them to fund Israel's war in Gaza, the Times reported.

Meta said in its report that it had identified the disinformation campaign, which it linked to Stoic, and removed the accounts.

OpenAI also published a report last week announcing its own takedown of malicious actors connected to Stoic, which the company said was using ChatGPT to generate and disseminate content about the war in Gaza.

Israeli officials told the New York Times that the covert campaign began in October, shortly after Hamas' October 7 terror attack, in which militants took hostages and killed hundreds of people in a cross-border assault.

In its beginning, the operation sought out tech-savvy Israelis to become "warriors for Israel" and run "digital campaigns" to support the war in Gaza, the Times reported, citing messages it viewed from Israeli officials and recordings of meetings that were held.

But, Israel's plan hasn't had much success on social media. Both OpenAI and Meta said in their reports that the influence campaign hasn't generated meaningful engagement from real users.

It also doesn't appear to be changing the minds of average Americans. According to a Gallup poll conducted in March, 55% of Americans disapprove of Israel's war in Gaza — and just 36% approve, down from 50% in November.

Israel has, however, found some success in securing US funding for its war, with President Joe Biden pledging to deliver $1 billion in military aid.

Hamas-run Palestinian health authorities say Israel's attacks have killed more than 35,000 people, mostly civilians, since the war began, according to Reuters.

And Israel has said it isn't slowing down any time soon, despite a push by the Biden administration to reach a cease-fire. Hamas, meanwhile, also has yet to agree to terms on a deal to halt the fighting.

Israel's Ministry of Diaspora Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

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