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Twitter Bans And Suspends Fake News Accounts



In yet another series of twitter purges and suspensions, Jack Dosier’s platform has permanently cleared off thousands of accounts from its platform for spreading misinformation, fake news, anti-government messages, and pro-propaganda war.

According to twitter’s official blog, the purge affected pro-Saudi accounts coming from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates directed at Qatar and Yemen as well as others from China seeking to sow discord among protesters in Hong Kong.

Twitter has also flagged off additional fake accounts in Spain and Ecuador. Ths move comes after a series of actions by social media giants such as Facebook and now Twitter cracking down on manipulation, often by state-controlled entities disguising their identities.

Last month, Facebook removed fake accounts based in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE for posting misinformation about Middle East hotspots and others involved in coordinated inauthentic behaviour focused on Hong Kong.

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.

“We have removed a network of 273 accounts originating in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt. These accounts were interconnected in their goals and tactics: a multi-faceted information operation primarily targeting Qatar, and other countries such as Iran. It also amplified messaging supportive of the Saudi government. We also found evidence that these accounts were created and managed by DotDev, a private technology company operating in the UAE and Egypt. We have permanently suspended DotDev, and all accounts associated with them, from our service.” Reads part of Twitter statement on their blog. 

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.

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The close confidant 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.

“Additionally, we suspended a separate group of 4,248 accounts operating uniquely from the UAE, mainly directed at Qatar and Yemen. These accounts were often employing false personae and tweeting about regional issues, such as the Yemeni Civil War and the Houthi Movement.” Twitter said.

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.

“Our investigations also detected a small group of six accounts linked to Saudi Arabia’s state-run media apparatus which were engaged in coordinated efforts to amplify messaging that was beneficial to the Saudi government. While active, the accounts in this set presented themselves as independent journalistic outlets while tweeting narratives favourable to the Saudi government.  Separately, we have also permanently suspended the Twitter account of Saud al-Qahtani for violations of our platform manipulation policies. This account is not included in the archives disclosed today.” Twitter said.

This follows the identification in August of more than 200,000 fake accounts in China engaged in fuelling 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.

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“In August, we disclosed that we had identified a network of more than 200,000 fake accounts based in the PRC which were attempting to sow discord about the protest movement in Hong Kong. Today, we are publishing additional datasets relating to 4,301 accounts which were most active in this information operation to further public awareness and understanding. ” Twitter said. 

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 behaviour to increase engagement.

“We have removed 259 accounts we identified as falsely boosting public sentiment online in Spain. Operated by Partido Popular, these accounts were active for a relatively short period, and consisted primarily of fake accounts engaging in spamming or retweet behaviour to increase engagement.” Twitter posted. 

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