News ID: 259009
Published: 0410 GMT September 20, 2019

Twitter blocks MBS aide’s, pro-Saudi fake accounts

Twitter blocks MBS aide’s, pro-Saudi fake accounts

Twitter has removed the account of Saud al-Qahtani, a close aide to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is implicated in the murder of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as well as fake accounts propagating in favor of Riyadh’s policies.

Twitter suspended Qahtani’s account without specifying the exact reason for the move, saying only that he had violated the company’s “platform manipulation” policies, according to a company blogpost, Presstv Reported.

Qahtani, believed to be bin Salman’s right-hand man, is one of the highest-profile figures implicated in the brutal assassination of Khashoggi — an outspoken critic of the heir to the Saudi throne — at Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. Mohammed himself is believed to have personally ordered the killing. Qahtani was removed from his post after widespread revelations of the state-sponsored murder.

But, Qahtani is said to be free and has not been put on trial for the murder in Saudi Arabia. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that he continues to carry out some of his duties as a royal court adviser on media affairs.

Qahtani also ran an electronic army, known as “flies,” which is tasked with polishing the kingdom’s image and attacking its perceived enemies online.

Also on Friday, Twitter deleted accounts tied to Saudi Arabia’s “state-run media apparatus” and other pro-Saudi accounts originating in the United Arab Emirates and Egypt that promoted Saudi propaganda.

A network of 267 accounts in the UAE and Egypt, which were removed by the social network, was engaged in a “multi-faceted information operation” targeting Qatar and Iran while amplifying messages supportive of the Saudi regime, according to Twitter.

Twitter also said that it suspended six other accounts presenting themselves as independent journalistic outlets but were in fact “tweeting narratives favorable to the Saudi government.”

According to the blogpost, the company also took action against 4,258 accounts operating from the UAE that used fake names and tweeted mostly about Qatar and Yemen.



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