According to investigative reporters, an Israeli company has manipulated elections worldwide for payment. According to international research, in which the "Spiegel", the "Zeit" and the ZDF were also involved, the so-called "Team Jorge" has customers from business and politics.
According to research by the Forbidden Stories investigative editorial team, the former military and agents use fake news and hacking methods to achieve their goals. The reports are based on six hours of secretly recorded conversations in which company boss Tal Hanan and his team present their service. The 50-year-old Hanan is said to be a former Israeli elite soldier.
The team has so far interfered in 33 national election campaigns and votes, including in Kenya and Nigeria, but also in Europe, it said. Tal Hanan can be heard saying in the recording that 27 of the missions were successful. So there are only three rules: you oppose actions in Israel as well as against Russian or US government policies.
For manipulation on social media, the team has developed its own platform called Aims, which can be used to create verified user accounts. However, not all claims could be independently verified, it said.
According to the reporters, the company is based in the Israeli city of Modiin, which is about halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The team controls an "army" of more than 30,000 bots, the British "Guardian" reported on Wednesday. These are profiles on social media that are not backed by real people. These are extremely cleverly designed and are simultaneously represented on various platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
According to the team, they are also able to hack Telegram and Gmail. With the help of smear campaigns and stolen information, public opinion is deliberately influenced.
Hanan charges between $400,000 and $600,000 a month for his services. The Israeli businessman reportedly denied any wrongdoing. The German Press Agency in Tel Aviv has also requested a reaction.