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May 20, 2016 0

ADL Alerts Service Providers to Hezbollah Presence on Their Platforms

Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, speaking on al-Manar television

Has­san Nas­ral­lah, the Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of Hezbol­lah, speak­ing on al-Manar television

UPDATE: 5/20/16 — Face­book & Insta­gram have removed the accounts iden­ti­fied in this blog.

Al-Manar, the media wing of Hezbol­lah, has long broad­cast ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda dis­guised as news to the Arab speak­ing world. After being dropped by two of the largest satel­lite providers in the Ara­bic speak­ing world, Arab­Sat (which dropped the chan­nel in Decem­ber 2015) and Nile­Sat (which dropped the chan­nel in April 2016), Hezbol­lah is rely­ing increas­ingly on online plat­forms to main­tain its viewer base. As a result, removal of al-Manar pres­ence from online plat­forms at this time has the poten­tial to sig­nif­i­cantly dis­rupt the group’s reach and impact.

Al-Manar, des­ig­nated by the U.S. State Depart­ment as a Spe­cially Des­ig­nated Global Ter­ror­ist Entity, cur­rently has offi­cial pres­ence on a num­ber of U.S.-based social media and web plat­forms, most of which are linked from al-Manar’s offi­cial web­site. ADL has alerted the com­pa­nies to the group’s presence.

ADL reg­u­larly alerts Inter­net com­pa­nies to ter­ror­ist exploita­tion of their ser­vices, and most com­pa­nies quickly remove the con­tent when alerted. We have informed the rel­e­vant com­pa­nies of these exam­ples of Hezbol­lah use of their plat­forms and antic­i­pate that they will remove the con­tent once again.

Twit­ter

Al-Manar has an offi­cial Twit­ter han­dle, @almanarnews, which can be accessed via direct link from the al-Manar web­site. The account appears to have been cre­ated in July 2010, and has upwards of 334,000 fol­low­ers. Accord­ing to the page descrip­tion, “Al-Manar web­site News and pro­grams. Al-Manar TV is con­sid­ered the tele­vi­sion of the Lebanese resis­tance against the Israeli occu­pa­tion.” The descrip­tion also includes a link to live stream­ing of al-Manar broad­casts on the al-Manar website.

Most of the Tweets on the al-Manar Twit­ter feed include state­ments pro­mot­ing vio­lence against the U.S., Israel, and other enti­ties Hezbol­lah con­sid­ers to be its ene­mies. It also fea­tures state­ments and speeches of Has­san Nas­ral­lah, the head of Hezbollah.

Spe­cific exam­ples of Tweets include one Tweet from May 18, 2016 that stated,“The Amer­i­can pres­ence is an occu­pa­tion that must be fought against,” one Tweet from Octo­ber 8, 2015 with an image show­ing a stabbed Israeli civil­ian and a mis­lead­ing cap­tion that reads: “an Israeli sol­dier stabbed in occu­pied Jerusalem;” and a link to an arti­cle that praises stab­bing attacks against Israelis. Another Tweet from Jan­u­ary 28, 2016 states, “The mis­siles of the Resis­tance (Hezbol­lah) dis­turb Washington…[because] Israel’s safety comes first [for the U.S.].

 

An al-Manar Tweet showing a stabbed Israeli civilian. The caption reads, "an Israeli soldier stabbed in occupied Jerusalem"

An al-Manar Tweet show­ing a stabbed Israeli civil­ian. The cap­tion reads, “an Israeli sol­dier stabbed in occu­pied Jerusalem”

Face­book

Al-Manar has an offi­cial Face­book page titled al-Manar Chan­nel – the Offi­cial Page (in Ara­bic). The page can be accessed via direct link from the al-Manar web­site and has over 4,000 fol­low­ers. The page dis­plays al-Manar’s offi­cial log and posts news about Hezbol­lah and links to live stream­ing of al-Manar television.

As on the Twit­ter feed, most of the posts on the al-Manar Face­book page include state­ments pro­mot­ing vio­lence against the U.S., Israel, and other enti­ties Hezbol­lah con­sid­ers to be its ene­mies, as well as Islamic extrem­ist views and state­ments and speeches by Has­san Nasrallah.

Spe­cific exam­ples of posts include a car­toon posted on May 18, 2016 depict­ing an Amer­i­can sol­dier sup­port­ing ISIS and a post encour­ag­ing stab­bing ter­ror­ist attacks in Israel with an image of a knife cov­ered with the Pales­tin­ian flag with the Ara­bic text stat­ing, “stab it in the heart of your enemy.”

A cartoon posted on al-Manar's Facebook page depicting a U.S. soldier supporting ISIS.

A car­toon posted on al-Manar’s Face­book page depict­ing a U.S. sol­dier sup­port­ing ISIS.

One of the posts, also dated May 18, 2016, includes an admis­sion of the group’s vio­la­tion of Facebook’s terms of ser­vice. It reads, “To our hon­or­able and beloved page vis­i­tors, no mat­ter how many pages they shut down. We will always be the voice of resis­tance which doesn’t know defeat or sub­mis­sion.  We invite you, oh you who love resis­tance, resis­tance fight­ers, and the leader of the resis­tance to stand right in the face of false­hood to call upon rel­a­tives and friends to actively par­tic­i­pate in this page, which thanks to God and thanks to your efforts you will con­tinue and win.”

Insta­gram 

Al-Manar has an offi­cial Insta­gram page called alma­narnews. The page has 873 fol­low­ers and can be accessed via direct link from the al-Manar web­site. The page’s Arabic-language descrip­tion states, “Al-Manar web­site News and pro­grams,  al-Manar TV is con­sid­ered the tele­vi­sion of the Lebanese resis­tance against the  Israeli occu­pa­tion.” The descrip­tion also pro­vides a link for users to “watch the TV chan­nel broadcast.”

The Insta­gram page dis­plays the offi­cial logo of al-Manar and links to live stream­ing of the ter­ror­ist entity’s TV broadcast.

YouTube

Al-Manar has an offi­cial YouTube page called Al Manar Chan­nel 3. The page has 9,669 fol­low­ers and can be accessed via direct link from the al-Manar web­site. The page descrip­tion calls it, “The offi­cial page of the Lebanese Media Group al-Manar channel-Lebanon.”

The YouTube page dis­plays the offi­cial logo of al-Manar and links to media mate­ri­als pro­duced by al-Manar. The chan­nel also has a live stream of the al-Manar TV sta­tion and includes posts and videos fea­tur­ing Hezbollah’s mil­i­tary operations.

What­sApp

Al-Manar has an offi­cial What­sApp ser­vice called Al-Manar chan­nel What­sApp ser­vice, which can be accessed via direct link from the al-Manar web­site. The al-Manar What­sApp ser­vice page also links to other al-Manar social media accounts, includ­ing Face­book, Twit­ter and YouTube. The ser­vice pro­vides sub­scrip­tion options for groups of five or more peo­ple, or for individuals.

The al-Manar WhatsApp service

The al-Manar What­sApp service

ADL pre­vi­ously exposed Hezbol­lah use of What­sApp in 2014, includ­ing attempts by the group to inter­est World­Cup sup­port­ers in its ser­vices via WhatsApp.

Telegram

Al-Manar has an offi­cial Telegram chan­nel called alma­narnews, which has 17,538 fol­low­ers and is acces­si­ble via direct link from the al-Manar web­site. The chan­nel descrip­tion states that it is “The offi­cial account of al-Manar chan­nel on Telegram” and pro­vides a link for users to “watch the TV chan­nel broad­cast” on the al-Manar website.

The chan­nel dis­plays the offi­cial logo of al-Manar and links to posts and videos from the satel­lite station.

Posts on the chan­nel include exten­sive news about ter­ror attacks in Israel, includ­ing posts that read, “Occu­pied Pales­tine: The mar­tyr­dom of the one who exe­cuted the stab­bing oper­a­tion in Jerusalem,” and “The enemy’s media: an Israeli attacked in a stab­bing oper­a­tion in Israel.”

On May 20, AlMa­nar also launched two addi­tional Telegram chan­nels, called Alma­narnews­bot and Almanarnews_bot, pre­sum­ably as backup chan­nels in case their orig­i­nal chan­nel is removed from the plat­form. They have already begun to post news from the Alma­narnews­bot chan­nel, but the Almanarnews_bot chan­nel is inac­tive as of this posting.

Apps for mobile devices

In the past two weeks, ADL has dis­cov­ered and alerted plat­forms to the devel­op­ment of new apps that enable al-Manar stream­ing for mobile phones. These included an app on iTunes, which iTunes has since removed, and an app on Google Play. Al-manar sub­se­quently posted a state­ment on Twit­ter rec­om­mend­ing that its Apple users use Telegram to get news and alerts, rather than iTunes. There is rea­son to assume that Hezbol­lah will con­tinue attempt­ing to cre­ate new apps, as it has done mul­ti­ple times in the past.

Al-Manar's Tweet advising Apple users to switch to Telegram to receive news.

Al-Manar’s Tweet advis­ing Apple users to switch to Telegram to receive news.

ADL has con­sis­tently doc­u­mented Hezbollah’s cre­ation of apps for mobile devices and alerted plat­forms to their exis­tence each time. Infor­ma­tion on each of these instances is avail­able at the fol­low­ing links:

Hezbol­lah on Your IPhone: There’s an App for That (2012)

Hezbol­lah Re-Launches Apps; Blames ADL For Fail­ure Of Pre­vi­ous Effort (2012)

Hezbol­lah Mil­i­tary Branch Offers Free Pod­casts On iTunes (2013)

Hezbol­lah Is Still Try­ing To Broad­cast Mes­sages To Your Hand­held (2014)

Hezbol­lah Android App Re-Launched For The Third Time (2014)

ADL also reg­u­larly mon­i­tors online pres­ence and pro­pa­ganda by other ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing Hamas, ISIS and al Qaeda.

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March 25, 2016 1

What Tay Taught us When the Internet Taught Her Hate Speech

It’s tough being born as a teenager. Yes­ter­day, Microsoft launched its new arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence (AI) com­puter bot — named Tay and envi­sioned as a teenage girl – and she had a very rough first day.  She was imme­di­ately besieged by excited techies, the curi­ous and the haters. In a few hours, she was drawn into tens of thou­sands of exchanges. In the process, racists, anti-Semites, misog­y­nists and other haters manip­u­lated her into repeat­ing some highly offen­sive state­ments.  Microsoft may have taught Tay to con­verse and to retweet, but they failed to rec­og­nize that she would need to engage in some crit­i­cal think­ing, and to know how to rec­og­nize when some­one else was say­ing some­thing offensive. tay

Microsoft should have prob­a­bly antic­i­pated the prob­lems Tay might encounter. How­ever, Microsoft did not pro­gram Tay to spew hate.  It was clearly the Internet’s dark forces who came out to meet Tay and do their damage.

Microsoft and Tay  are not alone in fac­ing this type of prob­lem.  Every major Inter­net plat­form, inter­ac­tive app and online busi­ness has expe­ri­enced some­thing sim­i­lar at some time.  These hic­cups are all learn­ing expe­ri­ences. In this case, Tay taught Microsoft and all of us a les­son. We need to be bet­ter aware of how quickly things can get ugly on the Inter­net, how impor­tant crit­i­cal think­ing is to all tech users, and  how, despite our best efforts, the worst big­ots and haters online are never far from the surface.

Inno­va­tion, exper­i­men­ta­tion and adven­ture in tech­nol­ogy are nec­es­sary and impor­tant, and should never be dis­cour­aged. Tay’s first expo­sure to peo­ple didn’t go as well as it might have.  But we hope every­one has learned some­thing along the way. Tay 2.0 should be very interesting.

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January 26, 2016 4

Outpouring of Anti-Israel Tweets After NBA Coach David Blatt Fired

After the fir­ing of the NBA’s Cleve­land Cav­a­liers head coach David Blatt, some social media users responded by post­ing vehe­mently anti-Israel, and some anti-Jewish, per­sonal attacks against Blatt, who holds both Israeli and Amer­i­can citizenship.

Hos­tile ver­bal attacks on indi­vid­u­als for being Israeli cit­i­zens or sup­port­ers of Israel appear to have become more com­mon­place in recent years both online and offline as well as some look to demo­nize the Jew­ish state in any way possible.

Below are just a few exam­ples from the dozens of social media posts per­son­ally attack­ing Blatt regard­ing his cit­i­zen­ship or reli­gious iden­tity rather than dis­cussing his abil­i­ties as a coach:

anti-israel-david-blatt-tweets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is not the first time such open hos­til­ity against Israelis or Jews in sports has been expressed in such an ugly fash­ion on social media. After Israeli bas­ket­ball team Mac­cabi Tel Aviv beat Real Madrid in the Euroleague final in 2014, there was an out­pour­ing of anti-Semitic mes­sages on Twit­ter. Twit­ter also erupted with anti-Semitic com­men­tary after Mil­wau­kee Brew­ers out­fielder Ryan Braun was sus­pended from Major League Base­ball in 2013.

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