Social media have become tools for popular movements like the Occupy Wall Street protest and the Arab spring. But Israel may be the first country to launch a propaganda war using Facebook and Twitter.
And the lieutenant running this virtual smackdown is a 26-year-old snowboarder named Sacha Dratwa, a Belgian immigrant who leads a team of social media soldiers.
According to Tablet magazine, for the past two years Dratwa has been in charge of the Israeli Defense Forces' "YouTube and Facebook presence and turned it into the most globally visible arm of the Israeli military."
Facebook, the magazine reports, only became available to Israel around 2008-2009, and it was considered a kids' toy. (Remember those days?)
But that was then. Now, Dratwa tells Tablet, "We believe people understand the language of Facebook, the language of Twitter." His team tweeted, for example, about an Israeli girl injured by a Hamas rocket, after a photo of a baby killed by an Israeli missile was posted on Twitter. The IDF commissioned a Foursquare-style game for frequent visitors to its blog, and it posts YouTube videos of drone strikes and assassinations.
Want to know more about Dratwa? Just head over to his mostly public Facebook profile. As Gizmodo points out, the guy running the cyberwar is also just a guy, doing "guy stuff" like drinking with his buddies, hitting the slopes and "commanding a cyber propaganda squad."