The Israeli government is expanding its existing social media publicity program, which aims to counter anti-Israel and anti-Semitic messages on social media and traditional media, by hiring college students to serve as social media foot soldiers, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
The students will take to social media to spread pro-Israel messages and combat efforts to organize boycotts against Israel, for which efforts they will be rewarded with full or partial scholarships, an Israeli government official revealed this week.
While best practices for word-of-mouth marketing encourage practitioners to identify themselves as paid advocates (rather than, say, people who are just unusually enthusiastic about Swiffer or Kraft Mac’n’Cheese in online chat rooms), the pro-Israel WOM agents won’t be required to reveal their affiliation. Participants will be selected by the Israeli student association.
Last year, Israel mounted a
social media campaign during “Operation Pillar of Defense,” an attack on Hamas, including pictures and posts across social media channels like
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. The Israeli Defense Forces posted video of the assassination of Ahmed Jabari, the military chief of Hamas, and also posted a
“wanted”-type poster of Jabari with the word “eliminated” stamped across his face on Facebook, where it attracted thousands of “likes.” There was also a
“Operation Pillar of Defense” account on Flickr, and photos were posted to the IDF’s Pinterest page.
Hamas and its supporters were quick to respond, using social media to circulate a photo of BBC journalist Jihad Misharawi carrying the body of his 11-month-old son, who Hamas alleged were killed by an Israeli artillery shell; it was later discovered the child was probably killed by a Hamas rocket.