Israel’s government made up fake immigrants on Twitter to promote immigration


(JTA) — Tens of thousands of people move to Israel every year. But Israel’s government apparently had some trouble finding real immigrants who want to talk about their positive experiences.

An investigation by The Times of Israel found that the Immigrant Absorption Ministry there posted stock images of people on Twitter and made up fake immigrant stories about them with fabricated quotes. The ministry did not respond to a Times of Israel inquiry but, according to the article, deleted many of the posts after the inquiry was made.

The publication could not find any of the handful of so-called immigrants on any social media. In one case, it confirmed that the image was a  real person — who was not an immigrant and never made the quote attributed to him.

For example, The Times of Israel could not find a record of a “Tanya Lipworth from Chicago, USA” who “could never imagine that I would fulfill the #Zionist dream.” The photo of “Tanya,” a cursory internet reverse image search found, mostly is attached to the name “Laura Larson.”

“If it is the case that this is a genuine ministry account, and the photos and names are fabricated, it is nothing short of horrendous,” said Jason Pearlman, a former spokesman for Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, according to The Times of Israel. “To use stock images to illustrate classrooms or meetings is one thing, but at a time when Israel’s credibility is constantly attacked on social media, to make people up is nothing short of idiotic.”

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