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October 12, 2021 12:40 pm
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Billie Eilish Attacked by Anti-Israel Bots Online After Saying ‘Hi Israel’ in Promo Video for New Album

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Billie Eilish. Photo: Lars Crommelinck Photography/ Wikimedia Commons.

Singer-songwriter Billie Eilish was targeted by thousands of anti-Israel bots on social media after she sent greetings to her Israeli fans in a promotional video for her new album, according to a report released on Monday by the non-profit entertainment industry organization Creative Community for Peace (CCFP).

In a clip shared by MTV Israel on July 31, the 19-year-old “Therefore I Am” singer said, “Hi Israel, this is Billie Eilish and I’m so excited that my new album, ‘Happier Than Ever,’ is out now.” The video was not uploaded onto Eilish’s personal social media accounts.

CCFP’s Digital Entertainment Task Force, which monitors anti-Israel hatred and antisemitism on social media, tracked the engagement on six of Eilish’s Instagram posts made between July 31 and August 5 and noticed that after the video was released, the singer “became the target of a concerted effort of demonization” by anti-Israel bots on her various platforms.

On Instagram, Eilish’s account was flooded with thousands of anti-Israel, bot-generated comments that included Palestinian flags and other Palestinian solidarity-themed comments.

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Analyzing all the “top comments” on the six posts, the task force found that 30 percent were anti-Israel and posted by users who have zero posts on their personal profiles but hundreds and often thousands of followers, which is a strong indication of bot activity. These “top comments” garnered a total of 235,995 likes. Also among the “top comments,” 48 percent were anti-Israel and uploaded by users with zero to two posts on their private profiles, which again suggests bot activity. Those comments garnered a total of 291,995 likes.

The 174 “top comments” on Eilish’s three posts published on July 29-30, before the release of the “Hi Israel” video, did not include any anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian messages. The task force’s 16-page report includes screenshots of the suspected bot activity and information about the fake accounts.

“There is a systematic and coordinated campaign targeting celebrities and influencers who associate with, or even mention, Israel in any positive way,” the task force said. “To deceptively shape and manipulate public opinion on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, bot armies routinely deploy thousands of fraudulent comments to try and overrun celebrities’ social media posts with their nefarious messaging.

“This coordinated attack on Billie Eilish is another example of how social media can be used to manipulate public opinion. And of a specific effort by anti-Israel activists, who use social media to distort and influence public opinion against Israel via unauthentic means.”

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