, 15 tweets, 11 min read
[#Thread] 1/ Ok, in today's Twitter weirdness we have some big news. I have found around 2,000 Twitter bots tweeting pro-Saudi and, erm, pro Aramco propaganda. but using the #JamalKhashoggi and the #خاشقجي hashtag. Read on for more details...
2/ The weirdness began when I started seeing these strange videos promoting Saudi companies, mostly interviews with white men called 'Carl' and 'Rick' who had worked in Saudi for years, and generally found it amazing... #JamalKhashoggi
3/ Also let's not forget Noel, who presumably had no idea his interview about his experience in Saudi would be spammed around along with the name of a murdered Saudi journalist. That's some dark shit...Of course there's more.
4/ Other accounts using the same two hashtags, and repeating the same content, were also promoting Mohammed bin Salman and his wise words on foreign policy and the attack on Aramco. Of course much of this is war-mongering with Iran...
5/ So I downloaded those accounts using the #JamalKhashoggi and #خاشقجي hashtag, removed duplicates, and ran some calculations. The results were ridiculous. Out of 2160 accounts, 933 accounts were created in March 2015 alone! That's nearly 50%. As a point of comparison, only 156
6/ accounts were created between April 2008 and July 2013. Other spikes in account creation are in July 2014 and September 2019, with a few others you can see from the graph. These anomalies are incredibly stark, suggesting that around 2000 of the accounts are probably
7/ bots! That is quite something. As mentioned, the bots are promoting English language content about the brilliance of Saudi companies like Aramco and SABIC - using the #JamalKhashoggi hashtag. So who is behind this? Well, as a vintage bot collector this one is probably easy...
8/ The majority of the English and Arabic content are links to content produced by @saudi24tv_news , a TV channel that has been behind hundreds of thousands of bots since 2012. I have been following this network for some time, along with my colleague @abulkhaezuran
@saudi24tv_news @abulkhaezuran 9/ I have previously written about how these bots have promoted sectarian hate speech, exposingtheinvisible.org/resources/auto… They tweet constantly on the #Saudi (in arabic) hashtag, and promote an extremely pro-government and pro-MBS line. They even opened an English language
@saudi24tv_news @abulkhaezuran 10/ channel recently. In some peak Twitter metalevel conception, in October 2018 the Saudi TV channel had its original Twitter account suspended @Saudi_24. So what happened? Loads of bots launched a campaign calling for the reinstatement of the channel
@saudi24tv_news @abulkhaezuran @Saudi_24 11/ I even raised concern about this botnet way back in 2016 - Twitter suspended 1,800 accounts as a result, but were not happy when I published this on my blog. Below is a screenshot from the email Twitter sent me expressing their chagrin...
@saudi24tv_news @abulkhaezuran @Saudi_24 12/ However, thousands of these bots are still active. Myself and @billmarczak even tracked down the guy who made the original software called 'Diavolo'. It was reported on here > aljazeera.com/news/2019/07/a…
@saudi24tv_news @abulkhaezuran @Saudi_24 @billmarczak 13/ So yes, I don't want to get too sidetracked. Just to say that the #JamalKhashoggi hashtag is being polluted by Twitter bots that have existed for years. They did it last year, and they did it again, and they are sharing news stories that still promote conspiracy theories
14/ about the death of Khashoggi - even though the Saudi government have admitted it was pre-meditated. That's in addition to the weird pro-Aramco propaganda, which started before the recent news about Aramco's carbon footprint - but after the drone attack on Abqaiq...
15/ If @TwitterSupport are interested got a load of bots for you! *shouts into the void*.... Thanks for listening all. You can download the data here> github.com/Majormojangles… #Saudi #disinfo
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