Israel‘s Central Election Committee with few days to go before the September 17th Israel elections are taking steps in achieving a free and fair election. Hence, the committee has consulted executives of some big players in the social media industry such as Facebook and other agencies to aid in adequately arranging against potential last-minute cyber-attacks of all kinds and also against the spread of fake news which can distort a peaceful election.
In this modern dispensation, where technology is easily accessible, the word “cyber” has gradually become a tropical discussion among many in terms of elections and people’s opinions. Though candidates standing for elections decades ago usually competed for elections by rallies on the streets and through billboards only, now things are different as everyone can enter the cyberspace.
Moreover, some actions are already in place by some parties as on September13th,a pressing letter was sent to the director of the National Cyber Directorate by Avigdor Lieberman (head of Yisrael Beitenu) which compels the NCD to anticipate and stop any cyber-attacks which may go against his party whether before the election day or during the election day itself.
Image Source: media2.s-nbcnews.com
Furthermore, on September 2nd, the Central Election Committee was called upon by Yisrael Beitenu in writing to stop some posts on Facebook suspected to be carried out by the Likud-National Liberal Movement and directed at Lieberman. The writing had an attachment of a list of more than 50 supposedly fake Facebook accounts that are used to circulate fake news through Russia. In writing, the Yisrael Beitenu stated that these Facebook posts were against Lieberman, basically, because the party has a strong following among immigrants from and other parts of the world; however, the post also went against the Democratic Camp and Labor-Gesher.
According to reports, Netanyahu started the battlefield with emotions and contended conflicts which made Lieberman pursue Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party in the massive fight for the vote of immigrants in Russia. Also, Netanyahu range escalated when Lieberman declined any part of the government alliance Netanyahu was striving to form after the April 2019 elections but looking determined on pulling down Netanyahu’s well-built political career. So, therefore, the Prime Minister channelled his campaign towards enticing the loyal Lieberman’s supporters with fake news to pull them away from him.
The most intriguing part of the campaign was that Netanyahu had it all. He had a substantial budget whileLiebermanhasonly a few obtained from the number of votes his party got in April thus 4%.
Nevertheless, on September 12th, a day following the message sent by Netanyahu, Facebook suspended Netanyahu’s Chabot campaign. The message he sent was to his supporters which he advised them to vote and persuade others to join a vote for him to stop the left-wing government supported by “the Arabs who are willing to destroy us all including women and children.”
Image Source: theforward.com
Contrary to that, Facebook has lashed out a warning to Netanyahu, quoting a hate speech violation of their rules and regulations. However, in an attempt to disclaim the disturbing message that geared towards the 21% Arab minority, Likud party professed that the message that breached the rules of the social media platform was not sent by Netanyahu himself but by an automated bot initiated by junior staff.
The eventuality trails a similar case involving an Election Day video in which Netanyahu used to encourage his supporters to vote. In it, he said, “the Arabs are flocking to the polls in droves.” Netanyahu had to apologize for that video.
The formulation of fake news from both parties to destroy each other might be quite worrying, but a more critical factor is the series of cyber-attacks on the election, such as the manipulation of votes.
As per rumours reaching the Israeli authorities, some political people are connecting with Ukraine hackers to work in conveying large sums of WhatsApp messages and texts messages that target supporters before the election and during the election.
Moreover, the chairman of the Central Election Committee, Justice Hanan Melcer, in avoiding potential attacks has made a pertinent call on agencies such as Shin Bet and the National Cyber Directorate to act on the issue. Melcer is also making contact with Facebook who runs WhatsApp to prevent widespread of fake news and other manipulative activities on Election Day.
Finally, reports suggest some senior Facebook executives have made it to the country via a private jet to have a talk with Mercer on how to alleviate the manipulation of the election results.
As the world has come to realize the importance of fighting cyber activities which control people’s choices, so we all hope that the Israeli elections will be free of cyber-attacks.
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