Twitter has taken a strict action today by suspending hundreds of twitter accounts which were allegedly bots, and were spreading pro-Saudi tweets against the missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi. An NBC news report suggests that the media outlet handed over a spreadsheet of hundreds of such accounts to Twitter, which were compiled by IT professional Josh Russell. These accounts were behaving like a bot, tweeting and re-tweeting pro-Saudi Government posts in same chronology.
The tweets are enraging people to question the reports against death of Khashoggi inside Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, by supporting the crown prince of Saudi, with the hashtags #We_all_trust_Mohammad_Bin_Salman.
Khashoggi visited the consulate this October to obtain document to confirm that he is divorced s that he may marry his fiance. The consulate claims that Khashoggi left the building from the backdoor, however, no CCTV footage could confirm their claims.
Those behind running these bots were certainly well equipped with how Twitter works, as they managed to design something which kept sending malicious tweets for years without attracting an eyeball. A handful of them were created back in 2012, within a difference of some minutes. Ben Nimmo from Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Lab, which monitors disinformation campaigns online, said:
They’re definitely bots, but they’re not targeting individuals. This is a numbers game being played by bots and it’s about boosting messaging.
In order to spread their propaganda, they use the hashtags criticizing Khashoggi’s fiance for the mishap, along with “#unfollow_enemies_of_the_nation” and others.
Looking back at the reports of Washington Post, which got published earlier this year, some administrations of the Persian Gulf are responsible for creating Twitter bots in order to create political hype in the region. As per an insider who spoke with NBC News, the company has been aware of Middle Eastern botnets for some time now, and the company has been trying to tackle them even before the report got presented to them.