Here's the 26-Year-Old Snowboarder Running Israel's Social Media War

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Sacha Dratwa enjoys some very normal things: macchiatos, swimming, vodka, hanging out with friends. You can see it right on his Facebook profile. But unlike most Facebook folks, this guy runs Israel's Internet propaganda war machine.

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Tablet brings us the story of Dratwa, who came to Israel from Belgium, and at only 26 years old, commandeered "the IDF's YouTube and Facebook presence and turned it into the most globally visible arm of the Israeli military." No small feat. And you've got to hand it to the guy; as far as 21st century web psych-ops goes, the man is definitely onto something. Tweeting YouTube assassination videos is next-level stuff. And as a relatively young feller, Dratwa gets it: "We believe people understand the language of Facebook, the language of Twitter," he tells Tablet. Ergo, the Israeli military is using the exact same tools to win you over as, say, Pepsi, or Boo the Dog.

The difference is that Dratwa, who commands a team of social media soldiers fighting to sway public opinion on a controversial war one tweet, Flickr upload, and YouTube share at a time, has an almost entirely public Facebook profile. You can't say the same for most military brass in a wartime superpower. He's just a guy—albeit a guy running the IDF's highly-sophisticated online component of an IRL war—but a guy nonetheless. A guy who does guy stuff.

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Interestingly, he's only been on Facebook since 2009—a late adopter! But he's been busy since then:

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Picking ruggedly handsome profile pictures.

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Hitting the slopes!

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Uploading vacation shots.

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Boozin' with bros.

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Commanding a cyber propaganda squad.

Looking at all this, you probably wouldn't guess that he's running an ethically dubious, historically unprecedented Internet battle for hearts and minds. Mostly, it's a show of humanity, like any other Facebook profile. It's transparent. It's mundane. And it's probable that wars of the future, large and small, will be accompanied by something like Israel's Twitter blitz, run by more dudes in their mid-20s who like Smirnoff and swimming. [Facebook via Tablet]

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DISCUSSION

By
The Ghost of James Madison's Rage Boner

I'm not an Israel cheerleader, but what exactly is "ethically dubious" about this?

It's war, and I don't think any rational person expects a social media account to adhere to something akin to journalistic codes of conduct. Everyone knows an official social media presence is presenting a particular viewpoint.