Update - 6/12/14: As of today, the competition advertisement on Al Manar (see image below), no longer includes the WhatsApp logo.
Hezbollah’s satellite television station, Al Manar TV, has launched an online competition in time for the World Cup called “Expect and Win” that uses the California-based instant messaging service WhatsApp.
The competition, advertised by the Al Manar TV website, will award a participant who correctly selects the winning team in the World Cup opener between Brazil and Croatia on June 12. Participants submit their selection via WhatsApp and a winner will be selected on June 13.
The competition rules say that only Lebanese are allowed to participate by sending their personal information and selection to Al Manar TV through WhatsApp. The competition is sponsored by a group of local businesses in Lebanon, including restaurants and shops. It is unclear what “reward” the winner will receive.
The competition is the latest example of how terrorist groups like Hezbollah use technology to interact with individuals and engage with a younger generation.
Al Manar TV, which is listed by the U.S. government as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity,”first began using the WhatsApp service in January of 2014 as a way to reach and interact with their audience worldwide and to deliver breaking news via texts delivered to smartphones.
Al Manar TV broadcasts Hezbollah’s messages of hate and violence, disseminates anti-Semitic and anti-American propaganda and glorifies suicide bombings to millions of viewers in the Arab world, Europe and South East Asia 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In July of 2012, ADL exposed Al Manar’s efforts to create free applications for smartphones available through iTunes and other online stores. The application was removed from the iTunes store and Hezbollah issued a statement blaming ADL for the removal of its applications.