Israel tech site paying “interns” to covertly plant stories in social media
Submitted by Asa Winstanley on Fri, 08/29/2014
An investigation by The Electronic Intifada has revealed that the online publication Israel21c is hiring students as “digital ambassadors” to plant its stories in online discussion forums and social media without revealing that they work for the publication.
Israel21c is part of propaganda efforts aimed to improve Israel’s image and distract from Israel’s occupation, abuse and massacres of Palestinians.
An ad for the position (published in full below) was contained in an email obtained by The Electronic Intifada. It stipulates that each “ambassador” must engage in “significant conversations” online, making a note of them and reporting back toIsrael21c staff.
Posing as a student interested in this internship, The Electronic Intifada spoke over the phone to a publicist responsible for recruitment.
He explicitly confirmed their intent to use deceptive methods.
Sam Bialosky of the public relations consultancy Miller Ink said, when posting their stories “you wouldn’t directly reference that you’re interning for Israel21c.” Bialosky made it clear to The Electronic Intifada’s undercover reporter: “that would sort of defeat the point of posting it.”
Miller Ink is the agency responsible for much of Israel21c’s press.
“We’ll send you the posts … we’re basically going to tell you what to say … and you’re going to have to send this out to people that you know,” Bialosky clarified, stipulating that “you’re going to be limited in your ability to tailor it.”
Israel21c is a publication dedicated to running fluff pieces about the alleged wonders of Israeli technology. The goal appears to be that such stories will distract attention from Israeli atrocities and help to market Israel as an attractive technology hub.
“What would be your job is to push that article out on social media,” Bialosky explained: “point to this sort of article on a community website, on a message board. Sort of a – ‘oh hey,’ you know, ‘you should look at this, here’s some good information on that.’” […]
Successful “digital ambassadors” are to be paid a stipend of $600 in exchange for between two and three hours per week over a six-month period. A “launch conference” for this, the “second class” of ambassadors, will take place in September in Los Angeles.