Israel to hire pro-government tweeters and Facebookers

The Israeli government puts out a national call for university students to come work for its new social media project, which aims to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
Official Israeli Defense Forces Twitter account. IDF

Lots of college students pick up part-time jobs canvasing for different causes, politicians, or organizations. Maybe this is how the Israeli government came up with its new social media strategy?

Israel is seeking university students to go to sites like Facebook and Twitter and post pro-government messages, according to the Associated Press. These students can decide for themselves whether or not to disclose that they're working for the government.

"This is a groundbreaking project aimed at strengthening Israeli national diplomacy and adapting it to changes in information consumption," read a statement issued by the Israeli prime minister's office on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

The messages are supposed to be focused on combating anti-Semitism and boycotts against Israel. Students selected to be part of the program will get full or partial university scholarships from a $778,000 budget that the government put aside specifically for this project.

Rather than just pro-Israel messages, some people fear that the tweets and Facebook posts could veer into anti-Palestine rants. One of the officials rumored to be heading the project is diplomacy official Danny Seaman, who has posted anti-Muslim messages on his personal Facebook page, according to the Associated Press. It's unclear if Seaman will indeed head the new project.

Israel is a social media-heavy nation. The country's Israel Defense Forces are quite active on Twitter and have a big presence on Facebook. Last November, the IDF used Twitter to live-tweet skirmishes and battles against Palestinian Hamas fighters.

Social media has also caused quite a bit of embarrassment for the IDF. There have been several scandals of soldiers posting videos to YouTube and photos to Facebook showing abuse toward Palestinians. In June, the IDF decided to ban social networking for some high-ranking soldiers and severely limit it for others -- the reason being that military secrets could be leaked via the social media sites.

Israel's new social media strategy with college students as hired guns is slated to begin within the next few months.