Twitter has removed about 5,929 accounts on suspicion of violating the company’s manipulation policies.
“Rigorous investigations by our Site Integrity team have allowed us to attribute these accounts to a significant state-backed information operation on Twitter originating in Saudi Arabia,” Twitter has said in a report posted on its blog.
The development comes almost a month after the US authorities brought a spying case against three Saudi nationals for digging up dissidents’ personal data at the micro-blogging website.
The company said that those accounts represent the “core portion of a larger network of more than 88,000 accounts engaged in spammy behaviour” in various forms of platform manipulation, targeting discussions related to Saudi Arabia and advancing their geopolitical interests on the world stage.
“We have permanently suspended all of these accounts from the service. In order to protect the privacy of potentially compromised accounts repurposed to engage in platform manipulation, and in response to researcher feedback requesting that we pre-filter unrelated spam, we have not disclosed data for all 88,000 accounts,” said the website.
“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,” the report added.
The website traced the source of the coordinated activity to Smaat, a social media marketing and management company based in Saudi Arabia. The company, which manages a range of Twitter accounts for high-profile individuals, as well as many government departments in Saudi Arabia, has currently been suspended from accessing Twitter services.
Earlier in November this year, the US Justice Department had charged all the three Saudi nationals for acting as illegal agents of a foreign government. (ANI)