Gilad Lotan
Aug 4, 2014 · 10 min read

Israel, Gaza, War & Data

social networks and the art of personalizing propaganda

We’re not seeing different viewpoints, but rather more of the same.

Instagram co-tag graph, highlighting three distinct topical communities: 1) pro-Israeli (Orange), 2) pro-Palestinian (Yellow), and 3) Religious / muslim (Purple)

Media Constructs Reality

This illustration originally created by Carlos Latuff, a cartoonist, artist and activist based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was heavily shared amongst Israeli users on Facebook over the past month.

On social network sites



This network graph details the landscape of Twitter handles responding to the UNWRA school bombing.
The “pro-Palestinian” side.
The “pro-Israeli” side.


The following tag cloud represents co-occurence of hashtags on Insragram posts. The larger a tag, the more times it appeared. The tighter-connected two tags are, the more times they appeared together.

Capitalism vs. democracy

Choosing to ‘like’ the Israeli politician Miri Regev produces a list of similar politicians.

The underlying algorithmics powering this recommendation engine help reinforce our values and bake more of the same voices into our information streams.

An Experiment:

Personalizing Propaganda

We used to be able to hold media accountable for misinforming the public. Now we only have ourselves to blame.

In Search of Sanity

In closing,

i ❤ data

beautiful, insightful, touching, interesting stories with…

i ❤ data

beautiful, insightful, touching, interesting stories with data

Gilad Lotan

Written by

Head of Data Science @buzzfeed| previously @betaworks, @microsoft | Adjunct Professor @NYU | @globalvoices

i ❤ data

beautiful, insightful, touching, interesting stories with data