Cyber-Security: Facebook removes fake Israeli accounts before elections

“Ahead of the election, it will be money-time for us, and we expect escalation, so we will upgrade our team and work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

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October 15, 2018 23:50
1 minute read.
A picture illustration shows a Facebook logo reflected in a person's eye

A picture illustration shows a Facebook logo reflected in a person's eye. (photo credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION/FILE PHOTO)

 
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Facebook’s Israel office has removed thousands of fake accounts ahead of the October 30 municipal election at the request of the National Cyber Directorate in the Prime Minister’s Office, the directorate’s guidance manager Erez Tidhar told the Knesset Science Committee on Monday.

Tidhar spoke at a meeting devoted to exploring Israel’s preparedness for cyber-attacks that could impact the local races and the 2019 election for the Knesset.

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“Ahead of the election, it will be money-time for us, and we expect escalation, so we will upgrade our team and work 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Tidhar said.

The head of policy at Facebook’s Israel office, Jordana Cutler, would not confirm Tidhar’s numbers on a local level. She said that globally from January to March alone, Facebook removed 583 million profiles.

“We don’t treat complaints of the government differently than complaints from the public and press,” she said.

MKs at the meeting expressed concern that not enough is being done to prevent cyber-attacks while protecting the privacy of Israeli citizens.

“The Election Committee and Israel’s laws are not ready for cyber-attacks and bots impacting the next election,” said Kulanu faction chairman Roy Folkman. “The Interior Ministry must get ready now, learning for the national race from the municipal race. It will be a mega-event, with attacks from Israel and abroad, and there is no governmental body making the necessary preparations.”

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Committee chairman Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism) said the police must do more to prevent foreign intervention in Israeli elections and to prevent fake news from being spread.

“The amount of fake news in the local race has been unfathomable,” said Kulanu MK Rachel Azaria, who dropped out of the race for Jerusalem mayor. “People don’t even know how to complain. Companies use fake profiles long-term. If that happened in the local race, I don’t want to imagine what will happen in the national race.”

Interior Ministry representatives reported to the committee that there will be elections in 251 local authorities covering 1,238 communities, with 6.6 million voters. There will be 12,000 ballot boxes. The mayoral candidates include 665 men and 58 women

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