Israeli Activist Targeted After Calling Malaysian Troll Campaign Over Gaza Conflict a ‘Digital War’
A social media activist who called attention to Malaysian groups harassing and threatening Israelis in a coordinated online campaign has been targeted by some of the same digital actors after a viral video posted Sunday.
In the video post — which attracted more than 1 million Twitter views in only 24 hours — pro-Israel activist Emily Schrader called the “digital phenomenon” a strategic and coordinated cyber attack to suspend and remove the accounts of Israelis, under the hashtag #IsraelKoyak. The phrase was seen over half a million times during the 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas.
“This isn’t just hacktivism. It’s a digital war,” Schrader said during the video posted on Twitter. “Using Telegram, Malaysian activists created channels such as the Team Suspend Twitter, in which they have repeatedly logged into accounts with fake passwords in order to block the account, including, by the way, my account.”
In some of the responses to the video Schrader is pictured with a “Death note,” while others read “you are nothing but a b**ch” or “delete yourself.”
According to Schrader and a recent report published by the Israel-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC), one of the leading Malaysian groups behind these attacks is a Facebook group known in Malay as “Tentera Troll Kebangsaan Malaysia” — or the “Malaysian national troll army” — which has over half a million followers.
“I think that after hundreds of thousands of hateful comments, hacking attempts, and death threats from anti-Israel Malaysians, there is no way social media platforms aren’t able to track and shut down these groups which are being used on social media platforms for the sole purpose of silencing pro-Israel voices,” Schrader told The Algemeiner. “They are using fake Instagram and Twitter accounts created for harassment as well as massive Facebook groups with over half a million people to urge their members to hack and harass Israelis.”
“This activity is a violation of community standards for targeted harassment of a protected group in that they discriminate against a specific religion and nationality. The activity also violates community standards of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for harassment and bullying in that the explicit purpose of their activity is to shut down other accounts maliciously. Most obviously, the threats violate social media standards for incitement to violence,” she argued.
Requests for comment by The Algemeiner to Facebook and Twitter were not immediately returned.
Schrader disclosed that she received 119,000 mentions during the Hamas-Israel hostilities in May alone.
In reaction to Schrader’s July 11 video post, the Malaysian “Troll Army” posted on Facebook, “Digital war is all about how you win the mass perception. Apparently you are losing it when your propagandas got debunked. Day by day no one will be on your side nor buy your antics.”
“The fact that this activity has gone on for months unaddressed by the networks is really a failure of enforcement of their own policies. No group should be abused this way on social media,” responded Schrader to The Algemeiner.