The singer Billie Eilish was recently attacked on her Instagram account by a suspected network of anti-Israel bots. After Eilish said “Hi Israel” in a promotional video for her new album, her social media accounts were flooded with thousands of bot-generated anti-Israel comments or symbols.
UKLFI has written to Facebook, the owner of Instagram, drawing its attention to this abuse of its platform.
Caroline Turner, director of UKLFI commented: “We expect Facebook to find that this is an abuse of the Instagram service and to take the appropriate action to protect its users and prevent deceptive manipulation of public opinion.”
A report by “Creative Community for Peace” has analysed the engagement on 6 of Eilish’s posts on Instagram made between 31 July and 5 August 2021, following the release of the “Hi Israel” clip.
This attack on Billie Eilish is another example of a growing online manipulation campaign by anti-Israel activists, trying to distort and influence public opinion against Israel via inauthentic means.
The report states: “After Eilish’s clip was released, users noticed repeated pro-Palestinian comments on her social media that received high numbers of likes. This unusual engagement warranted further examination, as there was suspicion of a coordinated attack of bots or fake accounts. Our research focused on Instagram and checked the most liked comments on each of the 6 posts Eilish made between 31 July and 5 August 2021, following the release of the “Hi Israel” clip.
Out of the 468 top comments on the 6 posts between July 31 and August 5, 123 were made by accounts with 0 posts on their personal profiles and were anti-Israel/pro-Palestinian (26%). These 123 bot comments received a total of 217,269 likes. Out of the 123 comments, 43 received more than 1,000 likes each, and 18 garnered over 5,000 likes each. The top bot comment received 13,317 likes.
When “suspected bots” (commenters with only 1-2 posts on their personal profiles) are included, the numbers are even more staggering: Out of the 468 top comments on Eilish’s 6 Telegram posts in the period examined, 170 were made by accounts with 0-2 posts on their own personal profiles and were anti-Israel/proPalestinian (36%). The 170 comments by the bots and suspected bots received a total of 291,995 likes.
272 of the 468 comments (58%) were emoji-only comments.
The 174 top comments on Eilish’s 3 posts published on July 29-30, prior to the “Hi Israel” video, received no anti-Israel/pro-Palestinian posts. E. Some of the bots and suspected bots that received high numbers of likes did include human operators who responded to replies to their comments.