A mysterious Israeli-based group uses 21 Facebook pages to churn out more than a thousand coordinated fake news posts per week to more than a million followers around the world. It milks the traffic for revenue from digital advertising.
Somali-born Omar is the most frequent target. She has been mentioned in more than 1,400 posts since the network began two years ago. Tlaib has been mentioned nearly 1,200 times. Both totals are far higher than any other member of Congress.
Using web archiving services and domain registry information, the Guardian has been able to confirm a key figure in the network is Ariel Elkaras, a thirtysomething jewelry salesman and online operator living on the outskirts of the Israeli city of Tel Aviv. Read more:
“The Guardian’s investigation has revealed that the Israel-based group gains access to existing rightwing and far-right Facebook pages by approaching local administrators and offering to act as editors who could bring new content and increase reach.
Once they gain access, the Israeli administrators publish identical posts almost simultaneously to the network’s 21 Facebook pages, which have a combined 1 million followers around the globe. Queensland University of Technology researchers worked with the Guardian to confirm that the Facebook posts are being distributed by a single source across the 21 pages, probably using auto-scheduling software.
The network published 5,695 coordinated posts receiving 846,424 likes, shares or comments in October alone, Guardian analysis shows. In total, the network has published at least 165,000 posts and attracted 14.3m likes, shares or comments.” Read more: