Cyber bullies at Canary Mission muzzle free speech

Cyberstalkers from the Canary Mission target Palestinian rights advocates. (photo: Keith Beaty / Toronto Star / Getty Images)
How an under the radar, organized multimillion dollar influence campaign is seeking to impact public opinion and elections, hijacking public polls, directing social media messages with trolls that engage in well-organized digital astroturfing.

By Dr. Alice Rothchild | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs  |  Jan/Feb 2020

The Canary Mission is an anonymous site that identifies and compiles a dossier on Palestinian rights advocates in academia, and harasses them through web and Twitter postings, tagging students, administrators, employers, and alerting the FBI to baseless, unvetted accusations.

In an era of malicious social media campaigns, the Canary Mission stands out as a little known but highly effective organization that is a threat to free speech and political organizing in the U.S. Targeting graduate and undergraduate students, and professors, the website is designed to inhibit political speech regarding Israel on campuses, ruin reputations, and destroy professional careers through publishing malicious lies and unrelenting attacks.

The McCarthyite blacklist has become especially frightening because it’s being used by law enforcement in Israel and the U.S. Palestinian rights advocates have been interrogated and deported from Israel because of their Canary Mission profiles. Others have been grilled by the FBI or denied employment.

Recently, a graduate student with stellar qualifications contacted me when his/her education and future career were severely derailed by this shadowy website. (That graduate student asked to be absolutely anonymous since he/she is so traumatized and frightened by the experience.) As I researched his/her concerns, I discovered that I too was listed, portrayed as an anti-Israel conspiracy theorist and provocateur.

My personal page on the Canary Mission involves a long series of cherry-picked quotes from articles and tweets dating back to 2011, interspersed with erroneous interpretations designed to prove their point that I am a dangerous, lying, self-hating Jew.

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