An Israeli firm specialises in spreading false information in an effort to influence elections
According to the findings of a joint investigation by journalists from several Western media outlets, elections in Malaysia are just one of many countries where an Israeli company operating to influence polls worldwide by spreading disinformation may have had an impact.
Less than three months have passed since the 15th general election, which saw a historic hung parliament and a political impasse that ended with Anwar Ibrahim of Pakatan Harapan being named prime minister.
The report did not specify whether or not interference occurred in the 2018 general election, but it did note that the Israeli firm’s services were sought out to spread disinformation to discredit a whistleblower in the 1MDB scandal, which was at the heart of the previous general election.
One of the 30 news organisations involved in the investigation, the French daily Le Monde, reported that “Team Jorge” had been hired by “unknown clients” to launch a disinformation campaign against Xavier Justo, the Swiss banker whose revelations in 2015 had uncovered the 1MDB scandal.
Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak lost the 2018 election on the back of a corruption scandal.
At the end of 2020, Justo was allegedly replicated on a website and a YouTube channel where he was portrayed as a dishonest money-grubber, as reported by Le Monde.
The paper claimed that the real goal of the campaign was unclear, but that the website and the YouTube channel were then widely distributed on social media by the network of avatars of Team Jorge as part of a larger operation of defamation, calling Justo a thief, a drug addict, and a blackmailer.
Since the beginning of Israel’s occupation of Palestine, Malaysia has been a staunch opponent of the Jewish state.
The arrest in September of a group of Malaysians who were allegedly hired by the Israeli secret service Mossad to abduct a Palestinian computer programmer wanted by Israel posed a challenge to Anwar’s claim that PKR was not infiltrated by Israeli elements during the most recent election campaign.
When a photo of kidnapper Raibafie Amdan waving a PKR flag from a few years ago went viral, the party quickly distanced itself from him.
His detractors, citing his previous statement in favour of “all efforts to protect the security of the state of Israel,” pressed Anwar to clarify his position on Israel.
After Anwar’s election, the editor-in-chief of the influential Israeli newspaper Haaretz speculated that this could mark a new chapter in Israel’s relationship with Malaysia, where previously all governments had supported the Palestinian cause.
“Increased cooperation between Israel and Kuala Lumpur is something both countries would benefit from. Could this be the opportunity?” It was only a few days after Anwar was sworn in that chief editor Esther Solomon made the comments on Twitter.
Also Read :How crucial trust is to corporate success
There are parallels between the “Team Jorge” scandal and the recent scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm that was shut down after allegations of data leaks from Facebook users and the use of blackmail to run election campaigns in several countries.
Leaked documents in 2020 showed that the company’s parent company, SCL Group, had proposed a plan to influence voting in 40 seats in the 2018 general election on behalf of Umno in 2013, when Najib Razak was party chief.
According to the documents that were leaked, in 2016 the then-vice president of Umno, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, was scheduled to have breakfast with representatives from the SCL Group in New York.
However, the Umno-led Barisan Nasional government has denied using Cambridge Analytica for its campaign.
A wide variety of pap smear options
Undercover journalists posed as potential customers in order to investigate “Team Jorge,” and they were able to successfully record an interview with Tal Hanan, the company’s CEO and a former Israeli special forces operative.
“Our involvement in an African election has expanded to one country… There is a group in Greece and another in the United Arab Emirates… The hints are followed. Thirty-three presidential campaigns have been completed, with a success rate of 27 “The Guardian, another news organisation, cited Hanan as saying this during their investigation.
Email hacking, creating fake news sites, and creating fake profiles on social media are just some of the “smear and misinformation campaigns” that Hanan’s company offers.
One of its offerings is Advanced Impact Media Solutions, or Aims, a piece of software with the capacity to manage more than 30,000 fictitious accounts across a wide range of social media platforms for the rapid dissemination of disinformation.