Always conscious of public opinion, during the recent war in Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) simultaneously waged a PR offensive across multiple social networks. On Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, the IDF has posted sharable photos and slick infographics aimed at justifying their military action. One member of the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit has even shared a meme extolling the power of Israel’s vaunted Iron Dome missile defense system.
The IDF’s official Twitter account @IDFSpokesperson has been especially deft at navigating social media. The size of its online influence dwarfs that of Hamas, whose military wing has similarly used Twitter to posture online. In addition to livetweeting Operation Pillar of Cloud from start to finish, @IDFSpokesperson has deployed hashtags, trending topics, favorites, and other site-specific features to make its case. In one instance, the account piggybacked off the hashtag for the new Call of Duty game, trying to garner support from the teens who are a vital ally to the state of Israel:
In another instance, @IDFSpokesperson reached out to James Bond himself, using the #Skyfall hashtag to pitch a listicle about their military gadgets:
Critics have remarked on the surreal and unnerving nature of this social media campaign taking place in the midst of a violent conflict that produced hundreds of civilian casualties in Gaza. Here is a sampling of some of the more outrageous tweets authored by the social media pros behind @IDFSpokesperson:
@IDFSpokesperson has also tried to curry favor among Reddit users:
The account has even pandered to Weird Twitter audiences:
And lastly, the IDF is not above trolling: