May 1, 2012
With an eye on Twitter, StandWithUs releases app for pre-fab pro-Israel messages
To celebrate the 64th anniversary of Israel’s founding, StandWithUs released a new social media application that the pro-Israel educational nonprofit hopes will help expand its impact on Twitter and Facebook.
ShareIsrael, an app designed for iPhones, iPads and devices running the Android operating system, is intended to promote pro-Israel messages in the social media landscape. Using the new app, people can take readymade messages and like them on Facebook or post them to Twitter.
Critics of Israel often use social networking outlets to spread their messages, StandWithUs Israel Director Michael Dickson said, and the group hoped its new app would help counterbalance those critical messages with supportive ones.
“They are able to get their tags to trend,” Dickson said of Israel’s online critics. “That’s something that we certainly want to counterbalance.”
The ShareIsrael app, which was developed by StandWithUs with two Israeli web developers, Omri Ariav and Alon Carmel, allows users to distribute prefabricated messages through email as well as Facebook and Twitter. Of the three portals, Dickson said, Twitter is the preferred one because that’s where the conversation about political matters and current events takes place today.
In 2010, when Israel Defense Forces soldiers raided the Turkish flotilla bound for Gaza and killed a number of those on board, Twitter guided the conversation, but only somewhat. Today, Dickson said, its influence has grown.
“Journalists are as in tune with what’s going on in their Twitter feeds as they are in tune with what’s coming out of the central news agencies,” he said.
With that in mind, the new app’s prefabricated tweets are presented complete with accompanying web links, never exceeding 140 characters and, perhaps most important, equipped with pro-Israel hashtags.
Hashtags—a word or string ofwords preceded by the # symbol—have been used in the conversation about Israel before. In December 2011, when messages with the hashtag “#IsraelHates,” began to emerge as a trend on Twitter, a senior Israeli official promoted a messaging campaign with the hashtag “#IsarelLoves” in response.
The messages promoted by StandWithUs through its app in its first week included, “Warren Buffet’s first purchase outside the USA ever was an Israeli company. #israelat64” and “#Israel: 3,000 years old, 64 years young”.
“We realize that people don’t have a lot of time and are on the go,” Dickson said. “They want to do something good for Israel, and we’re just making it easier and quicker and more effective.”
According to StandWithUs, the app was accessed by more than 2,000 people in its first week via the group’s website. It is expected to be available for download in the App Store and Android Marketplace within a few weeks.
—by Jonah Lowenfeld, Staff Writer