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BREAKING: @Twitter just announced a whole batch more takedowns. Including:

Saud al-Qahtani
Fake accounts run by Partido Popular in Spain
Hong Kong

Happy Friday, folks.…
@Twitter "We have also permanently suspended the Twitter account of Saud al-Qahtani for violations of our platform manipulation policies."

@SaudQ1978 led Saudi Arabia's troll army during the Qatar crisis.

Here's traffic on قذافي_الخليج, "Qadhafi of the Gulf," 14.09.2017.
@Twitter @saudq1978 All the most-retweeted posts on that hashtag came from him.

30,000 out of 45,000 posts were raw retweets of @SaudQ1978. Two-thirds of the total.
@Twitter @saudq1978 I wrote up the Twitter fight between Saudi and Qatar here for @ColumbiaJIA:…

Bots all over the place.
@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA Al-Qahtani hadn't tweeted since October 2018, but it looks like the account only went offline yesterday.

Archive of the most recent activity here:
@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA He went silent, but the Saudi/Qatar row didn't.

Twitter also reported taking down :
6 accounts linked to Saudi state media, posing as independent outlets;
267 accounts from UAE and Egypt targeting Qatar and Iran, run by a private company;
over 4k accounts run from UAE.
@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA Not all these are new. The six included "The Globus", formerly @ArabianVeritas, that @Josh_Emerson exposed back in April.

@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA @arabianveritas @josh_emerson They also included @KSAToday. Unclear if it's related, but there's a Telegram channel of the same name that was active until late 2016.
@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA @arabianveritas @josh_emerson @KSATODAY Twitter said some of the assets were run by a private firm, DotDev.

Get used to this. As long as people believe online info ops are effective, we're going to see more and more shady companies trying to cash in, whether they're effective or not.
@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA @arabianveritas @josh_emerson @KSATODAY On Spain, Twitter took down 256 accounts "operated by Partido Popular".

Mainly fake accounts spamming and retweeting. The unsubtle end of the spectrum.
@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA @arabianveritas @josh_emerson @KSATODAY And when I say "unsubtle"... well, these were some of the screen names.

@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA @arabianveritas @josh_emerson @KSATODAY This was amateurish stuff, which I suppose is to the Partido Popular's credit. At least they weren't any good at the dark arts.

Created this spring. None had more than a few hundred followers, many had zero.
@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA @arabianveritas @josh_emerson @KSATODAY These look like spam tweeters, rather than spam retweeters. A selection of party slogans and attacks on other parties.

About 87k tweets overall.
@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA @arabianveritas @josh_emerson @KSATODAY "To maintain our national territorial integrity, #StopPSOE".
@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA @arabianveritas @josh_emerson @KSATODAY Important to note that these takedowns dated back to March/April 2019, but the release was today.…
@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA @arabianveritas @josh_emerson @KSATODAY On the Hong Kong side, the release adds in another 4,300 assets from the takedown published a month ago.

"Attempting to sow discord about the protest movement in Hong Kong."
@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA @arabianveritas @josh_emerson @KSATODAY Judging from the usernames and handles, this was a mix of spam accounts and hijacked ones, again.

I love the "Bisou Patisserie" in the middle of it. Located in Bandung, Indonesia.
@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA @arabianveritas @josh_emerson @KSATODAY That location checks out. It's a real place, and checks out on TripAdvisor.

Most likely that the account was hijacked and repurposed. Seen that done many times.
@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA @arabianveritas @josh_emerson @KSATODAY Charmingly, it's still up on @Facebook, and posting genuine content, bakery-related. Not hijacked there.

This Egyptian saying is definitely the best thing I've seen this morning.
@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA @arabianveritas @josh_emerson @KSATODAY @facebook Here's another (presumably) hijacked one: @PaulKrugmanBlog, looking all alone amidst the alphanumeric scrambles.
@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA @arabianveritas @josh_emerson @KSATODAY @facebook @PaulKrugmanBlog It's still up in the Google cache. Note that third share of @HKPoliticaNew, one of the main assets in the anti-protest set, linked to the Chinese state.…
@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA @arabianveritas @josh_emerson @KSATODAY @facebook @PaulKrugmanBlog Why hijacked? Look at the posting pattern. Paul Krugman articles in early 2012, then nothing until it turned to the HK protests seven years later.

That's a pattern we'll be discussing more later.
@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA @arabianveritas @josh_emerson @KSATODAY @facebook @PaulKrugmanBlog Again, this doesn't look like a particularly sophisticated target set. A mix of alphanumeric scrambles in the names, and some apparently hijacked accounts.

Doesn't look like a long-planned or deliberate campaign. Hasty reaction to events in HK, relying on numbers, not skill?
@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA @arabianveritas @josh_emerson @KSATODAY @facebook @PaulKrugmanBlog Finally, Ecuador.

Political party involvement again.

"Tied to the PAIS Alliance".

Hashtag manipulation and retweet spam.
@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA @arabianveritas @josh_emerson @KSATODAY @facebook @PaulKrugmanBlog I'll leave it to the Ecuador experts to parse this one, but it's worth noting that this is another set attributed to a political party, just in this takedown list. (Three, if you count the Chinese Communist Party from the August announcement.)
@Twitter @saudq1978 @ColumbiaJIA @arabianveritas @josh_emerson @KSATODAY @facebook @PaulKrugmanBlog Just off the top of my head, in other takedowns across platforms, we've seen parties or governments linked to inauthentic behaviour in Honduras, India, Mexico, Saudi, Myanmar, Iran, Russia...

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