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May 20, 2016

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

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

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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