October 10, 2023 | NPR

Social media platforms inundated with unverified claims about Israel and Gaza

Photo: A rocket is fired from Gaza Strip towards Israel, on May 11, 2023. Israel and Gaza militants traded cross-border fire. Source: Shutterstock. 

Following Hamas’ attack on Israel this weekend, social media platforms have been awash with misleading images and narratives amidst reporting. In some cases, a clip from a video game or a video from 2015 have become viral and have been attributed by users to the events unfolding in the region. ISD’s Executive Director for Africa, the Middle East and Asia, Moustafa Ayad, spoke to NPR about the dangers in unverified sources being left to gain traction freely online in the middle of an information void.

“The violent content that is being pushed out across a range of different social media platforms as well as encrypted messaging apps is being used to essentially to gloat, celebrate attacks, as well as … to insinuate war crimes,” he said. “This is propaganda 101. You flood the gap, especially in those early hours, with content that suggests a certain narrative, whether it’s the strength of one faction over another, whether it’s the strength of one state over another, and try to get ahead of the curve.”