Facebook has uncovered a major Israeli campaign to influence politics and elections in countries around the world.
The social media giant announced on Thursday that it had removed 265 Facebook and Instagram accounts with a combined following of 2.8 million users for engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”
“This activity originated in Israel and focused on Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger and Tunisia along with some activity in Latin America and Southeast Asia,” Facebook stated.
Those operating the network falsely “represented themselves as locals, including local news organizations, and published allegedly leaked information about politicians” as well as about “elections in various countries, candidate views and criticism of political opponents.”
Facebook said that the “individuals behind this network attempted to conceal their identities,” but the company’s investigation linked some back to “an Israeli commercial entity” called the Archimedes Group.
The Archimedes Group is a Tel Aviv-based consultancy that boasts on its website of “winning campaigns worldwide” but reveals little other information about itself.
Interestingly, one of the visuals on its website appears to show a demonstration in Venezuela, suggesting a covert Israeli role in the US-led effort to overthrow the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
The Times of Israel identifies the CEO of the Archimedes Group as Elinadav Heymann, citing Swiss consultancy Negotiations.CH which listed him as a consultant.
“A biography posted to the company’s website describes him as the former director of the Brussels-based European Friends of Israel lobbying group, a former political adviser in Israel’s parliament and an ex-intelligence agent for the Israeli air force.”
However since that reporting, Negotiations.CH appears to have removed Heymann’s biography from its website.