Elon Musk’s X stops using firm with ties to Israeli intelligence to store user information – LifeSite

(LifeSiteNews) — A decision announced yesterday, June 27, by Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter) sees the “freedom of speech, not freedom of reach” platform move to a means of verifying paid users which does not involve companies with ties to Israeli intelligence.   

Payments to X by verified users was formerly handled by a company called AU10TIX. Its services are widely employed by social media and online service companies in their move to age-verified registration. 

Its database of user identities has been insecure for over a year, putting the credentials of Twitter users at risk. The problem also affects users of TikTok, Uber, Fiverr, PayPal, LinkedIn and UpWork, which have all used AU10TIX. 

From 404 media, reported June 26, 2024

Until yesterday, users of X who wished to monetize their content or pay to gain registered status were asked to provide photographic identification to verify their accounts. These details were held by AU10TIX.  

The CEO of AU10TIX is a former member of Israeli Intelligence Unit 8200. It was founded by members of Shin Bet, the Israeli domestic intelligence and security service.  

On July 23 2023, Reuters reported that Shin Bet was using “generative artificial intelligence to counter online threats.” With its former members heavily involved in Twitter, recent events show a disturbing level of Israeli intelligence involvement in monitoring and storing user data – as well as managing content on the platform.  

Musk has now replaced AU10TIX with online payment system Stripe, which has ties to BlackRock – and investments in Israel. 

Some users report that despite the change, “We are still being asked to submit our private details to Israeli Intelligence Company AU10TIX.” 

Why did Musk make this change? 

X users told Musk this requirement could be used to “doxx” them – locate and identify them in real life – as most photo ID lists home addresses. Doxxing is dangerous, as individuals with a grievance against users can locate and harm them, whilst those providing the information can claim innocence from any resulting harm.  

As Israel’s war crimes in Gaza intensified, world opinion turned sharply against the only nuclear power in the Middle East. 

With horrific images reaching phone screens around the world, accusations of antisemitism on Musk’s platform were raised. X is the main outlet on social media for ordinary citizens worldwide to view the atrocities committed in Gaza by Israel. 

Israel has routinely used automated and fake accounts on X to boost its messaging since at least 2019, when U.K. and U.S. media reported on hundreds of pro-Israel and pro-Netanyahu fake accounts.  

Israel: Policing the planet

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a personal meeting with Musk in California on September 18, 2023 – to discuss “antisemitism and artificial intelligence” in regards to X.  

As the Associated Press reported:

Netanyahu said controlling more-advanced AI must start by getting like-minded states to agree to a code of ethics and conduct to foster the technology and ‘curb the curses.’ But he said there will still be a need to ‘police the planet’ against rogue actors.  

Why is Israel so interested in AI? Artificial intelligence is driving a new generation of automated fake accounts on X. Research reported in Al-Jazeera on May 24 found a worrying explanation for the flood of pro-Israel comments accompanying criticism of Israel on X.  

“Almost every tweet [post] is essentially bombarded and swarmed by many accounts, all of whom follow very similar patterns, all of whom seem almost human,” said Lebanese researchers Ralph Baydoun and Michel Semaan, from communications consulting firm InflueAnswers. 

The report warns, “But they are not human. They are bots.”  

The report by Al-Jazeera shows how these “bots” – formerly simple and readily identified fake accounts, are now powered by artificial intelligence. This gives them human-like capabilities, making their automatically generated comments and replies indistinguishable from human users 

Why target X/Twitter?

Why does Netanyahu’s planetary policing mission focus on X? Hundreds of former Israeli agents from its intelligence unit 8200 already work at Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon. 

Until recently, X did not employ former Israeli intelligence assets to oversee its content.  

Musk’s social media platform is the least censored. Musk has gone so far as to offer to pay the legal costs of any user who is prosecuted for anything they say on his platform. Whilst X limits the reach of accounts it deems problematic, it no longer routinely bans them for counter-narrative viewpoints.

This was labeled “freedom of speech but not freedom of reach” in X’s new Musk-era policy, which he calls “Twitter 2.0.”

Yet even this limited freedom was a concern for Israel. After his meeting with Netanyahu, Musk went to Israel in late November. 

Musk met with Israeli intelligence 

Whilst mainstream media outlets emphasized Musk was in Israel to discuss antisemitism and meet the families of Israeli hostages, they largely did not report a readout from the Israeli parliament website.  

This readout states that Musk had an extended meeting with Israeli intelligence chiefs – with the focus on artificial intelligence. 

Following this meeting, control over the identity of paid and monetized users was revealed to be in the hands of a company with ties to Israeli intelligence. 

To its immense credit, the Wall Street Journal said the meeting was in fact “largely about artificial intelligence.”

Why AI matters to Israel

Yet it is independent journalists and social media users who have done most to highlight – and diminish – the influence of Israeli intelligence over social media. 

SubStack independent journalist Ken Klippenstein brought Musk’s meeting with Israeli intelligence chiefs to a wider audience on December 11.  

X users protested the links to Israeli intelligence, some of which were agreed by Musk following his November meeting with them. 

Another Israeli-based group to highlight regarding its involvement with X is CHEQ. It was founded in 2016 by ex-Israeli military intelligence members, including CEO Guy Tytunovich. CHEQ claims to combat bots and fake users. 

Here he is talking about Israeli AI startups like his own.  

CHEQ produced a report for Musk in 2022 showing almost 12 percent of X accounts were not human. That’s over 60 million fake accounts, and those figures are two years old. 

The latest deal with CHEQ – to oversee fake accounts on X – was brokered by Netanyahu himself.  

Israeli AI targets US lawmakers 

Has this situation improved since CHEQ took over the policing of artificial intelligence “bots”? 

Three weeks ago the New York Times said that at least 128 members of Congress were targeted by pro-Israeli non-human accounts to secure support for Israel’s war on the Palestinians. 

According to the NYT, the campaign remains active and its comments are powered by ChatGPT, a publicly available artificial intelligence tool.  

One user identified an Israeli “bot farm” on June 11, which is generating pro-Zionist content and promoting that of other fake accounts.  

A war on bots?

Musk said this move would counter the problem of fake accounts. Known as “bots” – shorthand for “robots,” these accounts are automated and created by malicious users to limit the reach of targeted accounts. 

Most “bots” on X post links to pornography or offer sex for sale. If your post is “liked” by one of these automated accounts, your post’s visibility will be automatically restricted by X.  

Bots are a means of making sure next to no one sees a certain post by artificially linking it with repugnant material. 

If bots follow your account, this will permanently restrict the visibility of anything you post on X. You can block them, but these bots can add you to “lists,” which has a similar impact on your account. 

Musk said that user verification would help him stop the bots. He used Israeli firms staffed by former Israeli intelligence agents to do this.   

Why does this matter? 

Most “sex bots” appear to be pro-Israel.

Musk’s own AI chatbot, Grok, agrees that pro-Israel activity is influencing X. 

Limiting reach of dissenting voices

The use of “erotic” automated accounts to restrict free speech about Israel’s crimes is ongoing.  

In my own experience, any post containing criticism of Israel will first be “liked” by one of these “sexbots” in seconds.  

Why is this done? Marking a post in this way makes it largely invisible. Sex bots powered by AI are a form of covert censorship, which permits “freedom of speech” but immediately strangles “reach.”

You can say what you like, but if you criticize Israel hardly anyone will see your post. 

ADL tried to ‘kill’ X/Twitter

Why would Musk hand vital X user data and its internal workings on post visibility to companies run by former Israeli intelligence officers? 

Before Israel began its war, the Anti-Defamation League tried to “kill” X. ADL Leader Jonathan Greenblatt had publicly accused Elon Musk of tolerating antisemitism. 

Greenblatt went on to urge companies to cancel lucrative advertising contracts with Musk’s X. The ADL tried to defund X, seeking to de-platform the entire platform.

In a September 4, 2023 post, Musk claimed that the league was “trying to kill this platform by falsely accusing it & me of being anti-Semitic.” Musk threatened to sue the Anti Defamation League – for defaming him, and for the massive loss of revenue resulting from its defamatory campaign.  

Musk said the ADL was responsible for a 60 percent drop in advertising revenue.  

The ADL launched a campaign which had urged companies last year to pause their advertising on X as soon as Musk bought the platform. 

Musk was announced as having taken charge of X on October 27, 2022. Five days later, on Tuesday November 1, the ADL led a virtual meeting with Musk to complain about “hate speech” on the platform. 

On the same day the ADL-led campaign of “40 civil society groups,” including pro-abortion types, wrote to the top 20 advertisers saying, “We call on you to notify Musk and publicly commit that you will cease all advertising on Twitter globally” if Musk did not continue the routine censorship and banning of accounts which were the policy of the previous ownership. 

The ADL helped set up a group named “Stop Toxic Twitter” to compel continuity of censorship. 

This group boasted of having caused the cancelation of 30 major corporate advertising deals with X. 

The meetings with Netanyahu came just weeks after Musk claimed on September 4, 2023, that the ADL had tried to kill his website. 

Musk had also said that George Soros was seeking “nothing less than the destruction of Western civilization,” in his backing for the same “civil society” groups which had led the campaign to destroy Musk’s reputation and the revenue of his company. 

A smiling Soros himself once said “I do not look at the social consequences of what I do.” Many of us inhabit these consequences.  

Musk was labeled a conspiracy theorist by ADL head Jonathan Greenblatt for his remarks.  

Five days earlier, Musk revealed on September 12 that the ADL had also been responsible for the removal of then-President Donald Trump from X in 2021. 

The price Musk paid for publicizing the immense power of the ADL to silence free speech, including that of a sitting president of the United States, appears to exceed the estimated 22 billion dollars its campaign removed from the value of X. 

Musk’s lawsuit never materialized. Instead, the cost to him increased, and appears to have included a deal to hand control of X, at least in part, to Israeli intelligence.  

Happily, some of this control is now being rolled back.

The freedom of the reach of Israel to limit speech is now being limited itself. Images and speech from reality, and not hatred and “conspiracy theory,” is the reason for worldwide outrage at the policies of the Israeli government, critics of which Greenblatt and his ADL have consistently labeled as “antisemitism.”

Calling reality antisemitic is a dangerous game to play. Perhaps this is what Musk had in mind when he said this in September 2022:

To be horrified at Israel’s actions is to be identified with irrational hate. To call the noticing of reality a conspiracy theory and the outrage at genocide a disgusting prejudice is to poison the world with a resentment which will produce real hatred in place of this shameful counterfeit employed in the service of permanent silence. 

Most of the leading critics of Israel and its lobby are themselves Jewish. Most of the Zionists in the world are U.S. evangelicals. The most irrational conspiracy theory of all is to brand the observation of basic facts as the product of madness. To flood the world with automated propaganda and then call the people who notice it insane is not only an attempt to destroy freedom of information, but also to label the argument for human life itself an act of malice.  

This report would not have been possible without the activism and work of independent researchers on X, SubStack and elsewhere. 

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