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Tom Kirkman

Twitter Bans Thousands Of Saudi State-Backed Propaganda Accounts

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Thankfully, this forum is 100% free from "third party automated tools" that push state-backed propaganda.

Because state-backed propaganda "third party automated tools" would likely be tedious.

And before anyone brings up my name, my pro-Trump "propaganda" here is entirely of my own human volition, and my comments are entirely free of charge.  Heck, I sh*tpost memes just for amusement.



Twitter Bans Thousands Of Saudi State-Backed Propaganda Accounts

Twitter on Friday shared over a terabyte of information on 5,929 accounts they say belonged "to a significant state-backed information operation on Twitter originating in Saudi Arabia, which were "amplifying messages favourable to Saudi authorities."

Disclosed in a Friday blog post, the state-linked accounts represented the "core portion of a larger network of more than 88,000 accounts engaged in spammy behavior across a wide range of topics."   

Devised and managed by Saudi-based social media management firm Smaat, which operated them "on behalf of - but not necessarily with the knowledge of their clients" (an interesting 'out' for said clients), the accounts were involved in various forms of platform manipulation, mostly in Arabic.

Primarily, accounts were amplifying messages favourable to Saudi authorities, mainly through inauthentic engagement tactics such as aggressive liking, Retweeting and replying. While the majority of the content from this network was in Arabic, a portion of it related to events relevant to Western audiences, including amplification of discussion around sanctions in Iran and appearances by Saudi government officials in Western media.  


Smaat managed a range of Twitter accounts for high-profile individuals, as well as many government departments in Saudi Arabia. -Twitter

Twitter has suspended the company's access to the platform, as well as the accounts of Smaat senior executives.

The overall manipulation network reportedly used "third-party automated tools" in to primarily amplify helpful, non-political content at high volumes - which Twitter suggests was an attempt to make it more difficult to identify propaganda. Smaat may have also believed that amplifying helpful tweets, such as crisis response information or weather updates, would attract more followers.  ....


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The most important right is our free speech.

Twitter, for a time, was as close as Saudis could manage with free speech, albeit typically using an alias. 

There was a young Indian guy at work, making $200 a month, selling coffee for 25 cents a cup. But clearly he had a side gigging going. I was his unofficial money changer and he didn't come by that cash selling coffee. I never learned what all his side gigs were, but then figured out one of his main money making side gigs. Selling black market sim chips so people could chat, tweet, and even dare I say, talk to members of the opposite sex. In theory every sim chip was tied to a Saudi national, or an expat with an Iqama, and there was a limited amount you could have per person, I think four. 

MBS has clamped down on any dissent. And has been aggressive in the social media field, very aggressive. 

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