Israeli Government App That Fights BDS Online Shared Info of at Least 1,900 Users

The app encourages users to identify websites and Facebook pages that feature anti-Israel statements and to present pro-Israel positions instead

Oded Yaron
Oded Yaron
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A screenshot from one of 4IL's video's.
A screenshot from one of 4IL's video's.Credit: Screenshot / 4IL / YouTube
Oded Yaron
Oded Yaron

The app Act.IL, intended to help Israel’s PR efforts on social media, has shared the email addresses of at least 1,900 of its users, according to the website The Intercept.

The app, developed in cooperation with Herzliya’s Interdisciplinary Center, the Israeli American Council and the Maccabee Task Force, is supported by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs. The ministry’s chief, Gilad Erdan, unveiled the app at an event in New York last month.

Credit: 4IL / YouTube

“The State of Israel is under an assault of lies whose purpose is to delegitimize it as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Come and influence the online debate,” the app’s campaign says.

The purpose of the app is to enlist Israelis and supporters of Israel worldwide to identify websites and Facebook pages that feature anti-Israel statements, and to present Israel’s positions to users of those sites. They can use either their own words or pre-prepared responses. The app touts itself as the first to “organize the pro-Israel community to work together via social media.”

An internet security researcher, who did not identify himself, told the website The Intercept that a user who downloads the app and registers for it can easily collect email addresses of users by the app’s interface. “I was shocked to find that email addresses for users were being shared across the internet whenever a search is performed,” the researcher said. He gave Intercept proof that any person with basic programming skills can obtain the information by following the app’s traffic.

Rallyware, Act.IL’s developer, confirmed to The Intercept that the problem exists. “Due to the open community nature of the Act.IL app, certain user information was shared among community members,” Rallyware wrote. “As your initial question suggested an opportunity for abuse of that feature, we have since limited this functionality.”

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