Most of the 80,000 accounts involved were in Arabic and served as sounding boards “for messages in favor of the Saudi authorities”
Twitter announced on Friday (December 20) that it had suspended more than 88,000 accounts involved in a manipulation and disinformation operation orchestrated by Saudi Arabia. Most of these profiles were in Arabic and served as sounding boards “to messages in favor of the Saudi authorities”, but part of it was in English and targeted Western audiences, depending on the platform.
Twitter set out to dismantle this network in 2018. The Californian company managed to better understand the players involved this fall, and took drastic measures last October. “Rigorous investigations by our teams have enabled us to link these accounts to a major propaganda operation carried out on Twitter from Saudi Arabia”, says the social network. Some content appears to support Donald Trump when he was a candidate and just after his election.
According to Twitter, many of the accounts involved used automated tools to widely circulate non-political messages. “These tactics made it difficult for the observers, who had to locate political tweets on accounts that essentially shared non-political content automatically”, says the company.
Networks like Facebook and Twitter are actively fighting against the numerous operations of manipulation of opinion orchestrated in particular from China, India, Russia and even Saudi Arabia. In September, a report from the Oxford Internet Institute established that the number of campaigns had doubled in two years and that they came from both democratic and authoritarian governments.