Facebook Exposes, Closes Accounts Managed By Israeli Firm ‘To Dent Opposition Image’

Facebook has closed several pro-Buhari pages run by an Israeli consulting firm that specialized in denting the image of perceived opposition groups. Most of the pages claimed to be run by local Nigerian users, but in fact, were managed from Israel. These accounts were created by the Israeli firm named Archimedes.

The accounts, before their closure, were used purposely for disseminating smear campaigns against groups that the Presidency considers as opposing Buhari in whatever way.

Many of these pages and accounts targeted the opposition party’s Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, but keen observers believe that other groups were targeted as well.

It is not clear whether the Tel Aviv-based political consulting and lobbying firm named Archimedes is the only firm contracted to engage in this form of deliberate efforts to conduct disinformation campaigns against groups and persons, or if the firm operates in other ways.

However, Reflections-online reliably learnt that the National Security Adviser (NSA) had rented a storey apartment building in Washington DC, aimed specifically at churning out smear campaigns targeted against the Islamic Movement in Nigeria.

One certain thing however is how Archimedes works in attempt to change reality according to their client’s wishes through “unlimited online accounts operation”.

Sometimes back, the Buhari government showed its frustration at how online activities of members of the Islamic Movement has effectively neutralized their heavily funded smear campaign, so much so that the erstwhile Director of Public Relations of the Nigerian Army, Brig-Gen Usman Kukasheka went on air on the Hausa service of the BBC complaining about the media team of the Islamic Movement.

They sought ways of using smear campaign and blackmail against those they perceived to be behind the very successful online Free Zakzaky campaign, while at the same time, expanding their own activities against the Movement.

Facebook has now exposed this type of sinister activity and has banned Archimedes from its platform on Thursday for its “coordinated and deceptive behavior” and conducted a sweeping takedown of dozens of accounts and hundreds of pages.

Although the crackdown was initially primarily targeted at accounts and pages that were linked to outright political disruption, it remains to be seen if such sweeping move would be extended to other clandestine activities against the legitimate and peaceful activities of groups and citizens.

It is known that several of such misleading accounts and pages exist not only on Facebook alone, but on many other social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Twitter and Instagram among others, spreading their poisonous hate to several million unsuspecting users.

One strategy it adopts is posing as either a neutral observer or as sympathizer to a cause or even active participants in a cause while subtly pumping out virulent smear attacks. This strategy was shown in one page with artificially amplified audience engagement, called “Rivers Violence Watch,” which pumped out political propaganda while posing as a neutral monitor of election violence, using the page description to mask its efforts.

Dozens of such accounts and pages dot Facebook purporting to be struggling for the freedom of the leader of the Islamic Movement, Sheikh Zakzaky but in reality only engage in activities inimical to the Movement and its leader.

They flood the scene with rumours, fake and divisive news while claiming to speak the mind of the leader, all in an attempt to humiliate him as someone who is rash and unjust in his judgements.

Most of these accounts and pages claim to be run by local and known users, but in fact, are being managed from Israel. Only recently, a very prominent person fuelling these campaigns was in Israel.

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