How Facebook Is Being Used to Spy on Civilians in Israel

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 I was going through my notes from the last couple days of the semester and I came across this article that Kelsey (I am pretty sure she was the one who brought it up) mentioned in class at one point about how the IDF is monitoring what Israeli citizens say on Facebook.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 As it turns out, the Israeli military coopted a social media monitoring in order to use search terms such as ‘boycott’, ‘demonstration’, ‘protest’, and ‘martyr’ to flag users as potential terrorists. Aside from these ‘trigger’ words, apparently the same happens with messages in Hebrew, including information of geographical location of the users. The private companies these militaries started hiring almost a year ago were usually in charge of controlling how customers behaved online—nothing related to armed services, at least until that point. According to this article by Curt Hopkins, “The data they requested included the identities of the authors on social media, his/her profile, the content of what they wrote, as well as their physical location […]. They requested the raw data without any analysis.” Thus, the IDF contracted the services of tech companies based in Israel to monitor both open and private posts by Israel citizens on social media—for the private ones, they would create fake Facebook profiles.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 However, these monitoring companies target a widespread gathering of public (and private) data available in Israel rather than tracking individuals in particular. This way, the security services are able to recognize groups of people talking about the same specific subjects of interest through the spying work done by these tech companies. Even though this was not the first time Israeli intelligence services took part in this kind of projects, for instance, one of the nation’s premiere colleges appears to have a strong interest in studying data capture and analysis techniques and teaching them to the intelligence communities. And that really caught my attention.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 In any case, the fact that the army is able to monitor citizens has been going on for years in Israel. For example, back in 2011, the IDF “established an anti-de-legitimization branch as part of Unit 8200, whose stated goal is to gather intelligence on foreign organizations that oppose to Israeli policies”, as noted by John Brown in this article on +972 magazine. The fact that the army is intervening in political issues is definitely concerning, because even though “the IDF takes pride in the fact that it monitors foreigners”, the evidence clearly shows that the army also tracks Israeli citizens.

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