Twitter Suspends Accounts Spreading Fake News to Israelis Ahead of Election

61 accounts linked to foreign manipulation campaigns with over 28,000 followers add to hundreds of others already blocked

File photo: Twitter icon on a smartphone screen, April 2017.
Matt Rourke/AP

Twitter suspended 61 accounts linked to foreign fake news manipulation campaigns aimed at the Israeli public, ahead of the April 9 election.

The move brings to 343 the number of accounts suspended by Twitter since election was announced last month, Elad Ratson of Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry tweeted on Monday. Ratson is the ministry’s director of research and development.

The new group of 61 accounts had a total of more than 28,000 followers, and most of them were in English.

>> Massive manipulation, foreign influence campaign and cyber: The threats to Israel's election

Meanwhile, Facebook announced in a statement on Monday that it would launch in various countries, including Israel, “additional tools to help prevent foreign interference and make political and issue advertising on Facebook more transparent.” Advertisers will need to be authorized to purchase political ads; Facebook will give people more information about ads related to politics and issues; and it will create a publicly searchable library of these ads for up to seven years, the statement said.

The new tools will be launched in March, in the last weeks of Israel’s election campaign, with a global rollout planned for June.

On Sunday, the Speaker of Israel’s Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, rejected a request by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, to which Israel belongs, to monitor the national election, the Times of Israel reported. The interparliamentary group, made up of 26 European, North African and Middle Eastern parliaments, noted that foreign and local groups had threatened to attempt to influence the elections, mostly online, according to the report.

Edelstein called the request “an unparalleled expression of arrogance.”