An Israeli company influenced dozens of presidential polls

Dozens of elections around the world, and particularly in Africa, have been influenced by a clandestine Israeli company, specializing in electoral manipulation, particularly through social networks.

According to the collective of investigative journalists Forbidden Stories, this phantom company, without any legal existence, nicknamed “Team Jorge” by journalists, because of the pseudonym of one of its leaders, Tal Hanan, is made up of former members of the Israeli security services and the Mossad according to the revelations of the collective on Wednesday. Its various sponsors have not been identified.

Jorge was already involved in the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018, named after this company accused of having analyzed very large volumes of data to sell influence tools used in particular by Donald Trump. With his new structure, Jorge claims to have “intervened in 33 electoral campaigns at the presidential level”, he told reporters, who posed as fake clients. Of these 33 campaigns, another manager told them, “two-thirds of them [ont eu lieu] in Anglophone and Francophone Africa. 27 were a success”.

39,213 fake social media profiles

In Europe, the company would have intervened in the referendum, not recognized by the Spanish government, organized by the Catalan separatists in 2014, according to the site of Radio France, of which a journalist participated in the investigation.

For its activities, the company has notably developed a platform allowing it to create false accounts on social networks at will, but also and above all to activate them, to animate them to give them a veneer of existence, explains the collective.

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“At the beginning of January 2023, the system used 39,213 different fake profiles, which can be consulted in a sort of catalog. There are avatars of all ethnicities and nationalities, of all genders, single or in couple…”, according to the Radio France website.

A BFMTV journalist in close collaboration with the pharmacy

According to the collective, the company also resorts to spying on key figures, in particular by placing them on wiretapping, or hacking. “To demonstrate the effectiveness of one of his tools, Jorge took over the email systems of several high-level African officials,” according to Forbidden Stories. “Once infiltrated into the systems, Jorge was able to impersonate the owner to have exchanges with his contacts”, adds the site.

The company can also carry out actions of influence, lobbying with decision-makers or journalists on behalf of its various clients. The collective affirms, for example, that this is the case of a journalist from BFM TV, recently laid off after having broadcast without authorization briefs relating to the Russian oligarchs, or to Qatar, which would have been “provided ready-to-use on behalf of foreign customers.

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