Twitter closes thousands of fake news accounts worldwide

TwitterTwitter said Friday it shut down thousands of accounts worldwide for spreading misinformation, including some artificially amplifying pro-Saudi messaging as part of a regional propaganda war.

The move affected pro-Saudi accounts coming from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates directed at Qatar and Yemen, Twitter said, as well as others from China seeking to sow discord among protesters in Hong Kong.

Additional fake accounts were suspended in Spain and Ecuador, Twitter’s safety team said.

The move is the latest in a series of actions by social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter cracking down on manipulation, often by state-controlled entities disguising their identities.

It follows similar moves by Facebook last month removing fake accounts based in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE for posting misinformation about Middle East hotspots and others involved in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” focused on Hong Kong.

– Royal Saudi account canceled –

Twitter removed 273 accounts working in concert in “a multi-faceted information operation” to target Saudi rivals Qatar and Iran among other countries, as well as amplify pro-Saudi government messaging.

These accounts were “created and managed” DotDev, a technology company based in the UAE and Egypt. DotDev did not respond to an AFP request for comment.

Saudi Arabia, along with the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, has enforced an economic boycott of Qatar since June 2017, accusing the Gulf nation of links to extremist groups and being too close to Iran.

Twitter also notably shut down the account of Saudi royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani.

The close confidante of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who ran Riyadh’s media center and managed an electronic army unabashedly defending its image, was implicated in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 but was never formally charged.

Twitter also suspended a separate group of 4,258 accounts operating from the UAE, with messaging mainly targeting Qatar and Yemen.

“These accounts were often employing false personae and tweeting about regional issues,” such as the war in Yemen and main agitators in the conflict, Iran-linked Huthi rebels, Twitter’s statement said.

The UAE is a key partner in the Saudi-led military coalition fighting the Huthis in Yemen in a five-year conflict that has devastated the country.

Six accounts linked to Saudi Arabia’s state-run media were also flagged by Twitter for being “engaged in coordinated efforts to amplify messaging that was beneficial to the Saudi government,” Twitter said.

Twitter noted the accounts had posed as “independent journalistic outlets while tweeting narratives favorable to the Saudi government”.

– Hong Kong protests targeted –

Twitter identified 4,302 accounts based in China “attempting to sow discord about the protest movement in Hong Kong.”

This follows the identification in August of more than 200,000 fake accounts in China engaged in fueling public discord in Hong Kong.

Twitter and Facebook are both banned in mainland China.

Hong Kong has seen months of unrest as citizens protest what they say is an erosion of freedoms under Beijing’s tightening grip.

While Beijing has not intervened directly, its powerful media machine has steadily ramped up a war of words.

The moves to silence Chinese-run accounts on Twitter and Facebook were greeted with protests and claims of hypocrisy in the mainland, with posters taking to the authorized — and tightly controlled — Weibo platform.

Twitter said it removed 259 accounts operated by the conservative Partido Popular that were “active for a relatively short period, and consisted primarily of fake accounts engaging in spamming or retweet behavior to increase engagement.”

And in Ecuador, 1,019 accounts tied to the ruling center-left PAIS Alliance “composed largely of fake accounts” were deleted.

  • vs

    Abyad, how are you, infosharmuta? I prefer you will be honest, smart, wise, kind so i can undo my bad word your description

  • vs

    Proof, today “FaLIEstinians” are just Orab invaders! And illegal! “This illegal (Orab) immigration was not only going on from the Sinai, but also from Transjordan and Syria, and it is very difficult to make a case out for the misery of the Orabs if at the same time theit compatriots from adjoining states could not be kept from going in to share that misery” Palestine Royal Commission Report, London: 1937

    • Hind Abyad
      • vs

        Fake fake fake. “pan”Orabians were not successful “etnically cleanse” Jews. Now 21% of Israeli citizens are Orabians. Stop posting LIE, Abyad infosharmuta

        • Hind Abyad
          • vs

            https://4il.org.il/1006/ Abyad infosharmuta

          • Hind Abyad

            vs Hind Abyad • 4 hours ago
            https://4il.org.il/1006/ Abyad infosharmuta
            •Reply•Share ›

          • Hind Abyad

            Lachrymose vice-versa
            ”Remembering the Ethnic Cleansing of the Middle East’s Jews’?
            (..) defining Jews from Arab lands as “refugees” is problematic –and many Middle Eastern Jews would be angered by it. Countless Israelisrecount leaving former homes in Arab countries and illegally,dangerously migrating prior to 1948.
            Such experiences do not include acomponent of expulsion: they left because they wanted to.

            Broadly, you could say that any Middle Eastern Jew (“Oriental” or”Mizrahi” Jew) who defines their migration to Israel as “Zionist” cannot also be a refugee:
            -the former label has agency and involves a desire to live in the Jewish state;
            -the second suggests passivity and a lack of choice.

            Demanding the refugee label to bloc-define this group denies every other scenario: such as that Jews weren’t all driven out of the Arab world; that they didn’t all want to leave; or that many actually chose to do so.”

            “Pulled” because by the early 1940s Zionist emissaries were operative in the Middle East. They helped set up underground organisations thatsought to inspire Jews to migrate to then Palestine. Scores of Middle Eastern Jews recall that Jewish Agency officials dazzled them with stories of a better life in Israel. Many of them felt betrayed when they set foot in the new Jewish state – and continue to feel that way today.(..)”

          • vs

            Infosharmuta, how many Jews are living in Lebanon? In what is called Syria?
            How many Orabs are living in Israel? Start to think and not to masturbate mentally

          • HebAlba

            Va chier

          • vs

            say this to your mamma and pappa, infosharmuta

        • Hind Abyad

          Sharm*t*a your mama

          • vs

            Sharm*t*a is only you here, infoinsect inforat. Your family is not guilty for your infection

          • Hind Abyad

            “vs • 4 hours ago
            Sharm*t*a is only you here, infoinsect inforat. Your family is not guilty for your infection
            •Reply•Share”

  • Niemals