Friday, 16 November, 2018

Israeli firm pitched social media manipulation to Trump campaign

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives on stage on the first day of the Republican National Convention New York Times: Top Trump campaign official requested online manipulation plans from Israeli company
Kenny Thornton | 10 October, 2018, 05:27

Disgraced former Trump campaign official Rick Gates solicited proposals from an Israeli psychological-operations firm to manipulate social media in Trump's favor and gather intelligence on Trump's opponents during the 2016 election season.

The company, Psy-Group, put forward at least three proposals, reports The New York Times, each of which suggested using "social media manipulation" and intelligence to help Trump beat both the other Republican candidates in the primary, and eventually candidate Hillary Clinton as well.

There is no evidence the Trump campaign acted on any of the alleged proposals, which would have forced Psy-Group to double in size, hiring an additional 50 staff.

Even if the Psy-Group's plans were ultimately discarded, Gates's solicitation of the company shows the Trump campaign's willingness to play dirty online. Another proposal describes opposition research and "complementary intelligence activities" about Mrs. Clinton and people close to her, according to copies of the proposals obtained by The New York Times and interviews with four people involved in creating the documents.

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Google says that like other tech companies, it has encouraged third-party developers to "build on top of our various services". The news comes as Silicon Valley companies have been increasingly scrutinized for their data collection practices.

While the media has been focussed on Russia's social media manipulation and election interference efforts in 2016, it appears that Russian Federation was not the only ones trying to distort America's views with fake social media profiles.

In this June 21, 2017, photo, special counsel Robert Mueller departs after a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington.

That meeting, revealed in May by The Times, was also attended by George Nader, an emissary from the ruler of the United Arab Emirates, and by Erik Prince, a Republican donor and the founder of the private security company formerly known as Blackwater.

A lawyer for Zamel denied to the Times that he had discussed the proposal with anyone from the Trump campaign. They pitched Mr. Trump Jr. on a social media platform or marketing strategy. The third and final proposal sought to use social media to amplify divisions within rival campaigns, while amplifying those division using fake social media accounts.

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