130,000 fake tweets help boost Netanyahu
Two Israeli researchers said yesterday they had discovered a network of hundreds of fake Twitter accounts that promoted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and attacked his political rivals, a week before the election.
No direct connection had been found between the network and Mr Netanyahu or his right-wing Likud party, said the report.
Opinion polls show Mr Netanyahu and his main challenger, centrist Benny Gantz, locked in a close race ahead of the April 9 election.
Researchers Noam Rotem and Yuval Adam said fake names were used in more than 150 accounts in the network and hundreds more might also be bogus.
People, and not automated "bots", were behind the postings, the researchers said, naming one of the alleged operators, who denied through his lawyer involvement in any network.
"Expert analysis shows the network has reached more than 2.5 million Israelis," the report said, putting the number of tweets since the start of the election campaign at more than 130,000.
The report said one surge of fake tweets came after Israel's attorney-general announced his intention in February to indict Mr Netanyahu on corruption charges, which the prime minister has denied.