Marc Owen Jones Profile picture
Assoc Prof @HBKU Mid East Studies | PhD @durham_uni | Disinfo & Digital Authoritarianism | Sen Fellow @ME_Council & @dawnmenaorg | Work ft in @nytimes @bbc etc
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Jul 22 8 tweets 4 min read
Thread 1/ During Biden's visit to the Middle East, there was much discussion about #Saudi Arabia and normalisation with Israel. As a result, the hashtag 'millions against normalization trended'. This analysis shows attempts to disrupt that trend with fake accounts #disinformation 2/ This is an analysis of around 40,000 tweets from 12 July until today. I downloaded tweets on the Arabic hashtag "millions_against_normalisation" and the rival hashtag "million_".

FYI: In Arabic, hashtags are often cropped by suspicious actors to sabotage trends
Jul 17 8 tweets 3 min read
[Thread]1/ This one's on #Morocco. A few days ago the trend 'degage Akhannouch' (get lost/get out Akhannouch) was trending. Akhannouch is Morocco's Billionaire PM under fire for (among other things) high fuel prices. This analysis shows lot of fake accounts operating on the # 2/ I analysed around 19,000 tweets between 14th-16th July. The below graph is just a time series of when the trend was most active over that time period. Nothing remarkable
Jul 7 7 tweets 4 min read
1/A few people have been pointing out some pro-Boris copypasta, which invariably circulates when Boris is in the news (which invariably is often). The screenshot below gives an example. Although there are many theories about such tweets, this latest wave is curious for several 2/ reasons. If you analyse the copypasta you'll notice that the most influential tweet about the copypasta is an account calling it out. I.e. more people are joking/making fun of the copy pasta than those actually engaging in it. Awks.
Jun 27 17 tweets 5 min read
An account set up in March 2022 has tweeted a quote attributed to a 'Qatar spokesperon', saying that those who hold up the pride flag will be arrested for 7 - 11 years. It's been retweeted almost 20k times and like +50k times. Problem is, no official ever said it. It's not clear who set up the account, but it appears to have been set up in the wake of a BJP party member insulting the Prophet Mohammed, and has spent most of its time tweeting defending Qatar (ironically). It's not immediately obvious why someone would make up a direct quote
Jun 13 6 tweets 2 min read
[Thread] 1/ Today again in Qatar there is another fake trend, the hashtag 'Scandal of Joaan'. This one is focused on Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani, and the Al Rayyan bank. The network is identical to the one that targeted Qatar Museums yesterday. #disinformation 2/ The network is small, and the hashtag involves fake accounts retweeting what appear to be three or four other fake accounts. Like yesterday, the content is focused around a video about the 'scandal'.
Jun 12 9 tweets 4 min read
[thread] 1/ Top trend in #Qatar is 'scandal of Qatar museums'. The hashtag is clearly platform manipulation from several hundred fake accounts. See below for an analysis #disinformation Image 2/ It's not quite clear why Qatar Museums is being targeted and by whom, but the hashtag is astroturfing. See below.

1st )App diversity is extremely low. 95% of the hashtag are tweets sent from Twitter web app (purple), with 4% from Android, and less than 1% from iphone Image
May 27 5 tweets 3 min read
[Thread] 1/ Below is a fake account that is part of a pro-Beijing and (at times) pro-Kremlin propaganda network that is currently tweeting about the #Uvalde shooting. The modus operandi is fairly similar > criticise US foreign policy or amplify divisive social issues in the US Image 2/ At the moment it has amplified news of the shooting. Other accounts are providing 'contextual' information to highlight related social problems in the US. I.e. One fake account below is showing an infographic about 'tragic' causes of death in the US #Uvalde #disinformation ImageImageImage
May 22 8 tweets 4 min read
1/ So @verified just refused my request for Twitter account verification

They don't give a reason, but I thought it would be interesting to share a few things about the process. Firstly, there are limited categories eligible for verification. I explored two, 'news' & 2/ 'activists and influential individuals'. Within the system, I couldn't apply for activists as the Twitter system deemed from the outset that my account wasn't eligible. From what I understand this is geographically bound - you need to be in the top 0.05%
May 12 10 tweets 3 min read
🧵1/10 "The killing of Abu Akleh prompted a flood of disinformation and propaganda from the Israeli state, which has sought to undermine and steer criticism of Israel by casting doubt on who was responsible for her death. " #ShireenAbuAqla… Image 2/10 "These practices often exploit professional media standards, as well as Western media and political fears of being labelled anti-Semitic. This is no accident but rather the result of a common propaganda playbook, which works as follows." #ShireenAbuAqla
May 12 7 tweets 3 min read
Thread/1 I wanted to compare in this case the @guardian reporting of the murder of Brent Renaud and the murder of #ShireenAbuAkleh . I will stick to the headline. Caveats at the end, but I just wanted to highlight a few obvious biases. 2/ The best way to do this would be to re-write the Brent Renaud headline in the style of the #ShireenAbuAqla piece to highlight differences.

a) The killing of Brent Renaud is now an accusation by a Kyiv Police Chief (creates doubt). This opens the door to 'he said she said'
May 11 13 tweets 3 min read
My latest for the @The_NewArab 'Why Elon Musk's Twitter buyout will be bad for democracy in the Middle East'… #twitter "Musk’s hyper-libertarian support of freedom of speech prompted fears that Twitter would degenerate further into a toxic, anything-goes playground."
May 1 15 tweets 9 min read
1/ On today's episode of why it's embarrassing to be British we will be looking at viral misogyny and hashtag 'growler gate'. I will explain why such a hashtag trended in UK, and why/who was promoting it. #angelarayner 2/ 'Growler' is a British vulgar slang term for vagina. The hashtag in question is a reference to @AngelaRayner. It relates to an ongoing smear campaign by the Daily Mail, where they claimed Labour MP Angela Rayner engaged in Basic Instinct like-tactics to distract Boris Johnson
Apr 30 6 tweets 4 min read
1/ Yesterday I analyzed over a thousand fake followers bulk following pro-Palestinian organizations and activists. Twitter deleted over 1000. However, ppl reported that it was continuing. I analysed more followers, and found 600+ fakes @AliAbunimah @hzomlot & @NaeemJeenah 2/ As you can see, 332 were created on April 29, and 324 created today - April 30. These are accounts that have NOT been deleted, so remember that the total number before Twitter suspended accounts yesterday was much higher. #disinformation #Palestine
Apr 29 14 tweets 8 min read
1/ A few people are reporting a sudden influx of suspicious followers today, including @abierkhatib . I crunched the numbers and yes, it's very anomalous, and very weird. Read on for some weird stats and possible explanations. 2/ Firstly, Abier has been followed by at least 438 accounts today. How do we know, well those were all created today - 29th April. If you see the below graph, you will see that the average number of accounts created per day among Abier's followers is 28.
Apr 13 11 tweets 4 min read
🧵1/ Some have asked why 'Back Boris' is trending. The simple answer is, because it's a polarising topic of course! As you can see from this analysis of around 15000 tweets involving 9000 accounts, the hashtag brings out both supporters and detractors of Johnson Image 2/ 'Back Boris', along with 'Scum Media' tend to trend every time Boris does something stupid (which, let's face it, is quite often). Johnson and Sunak's recent fines for having a knees up when the rest of the country couldn't even see dying loved ones has irked a lot of people Image
Apr 10 17 tweets 8 min read
🧵1/ I analysed 250000 tweets involving 92000 accounts tweeting the trending keyword 'Tochka-U'. I wanted to explore a key aspect of the contested narrative around the Kramatorsk station attack- & see the successful diffusion of the Russian narrative #UkraineRussiaWar #Ukraine 2/ Firstly context. Tochka-U is the name of the ballistic missile that landed on Kramatorsk station, killing 52 Ukrainians. They are used by both Russian and Ukrainian forces. Both sides accused each other of firing the missile. However, Russian propaganda & disinfo is fairly
Apr 9 10 tweets 6 min read
🧵1/ Yesterday I highlighted a large Chinese-language anti-US propaganda and #disinformation network on Twitter. A few of the accounts were also sharing links to Facebook videos. These links also led to fake #Facebook profiles sharing content in both English and Chinese 2/ For example, @HattonDrake , shared several links to a Facebook page 'blog' by 怜神, who has around 2.3k followers. The profile picture, like many of the accounts here, features an attractive young woman
Apr 8 17 tweets 9 min read
1/ Big #China thread drop! I've identified a network of 2-7000 (& probably more) fake accounts spreading pro-China propaganda in Chinese & English. Many of them are presenting the general argument that the US caused the #Ukraine conflict for its own benefit.

#disinformation 2/ First, the content. The network has recently focused on attacking US foreign policy, with particular regard to its role in #Ukraine and Taiwan. Additionally, it attacks Guo Wengui, an exiled Chinese businessman accused of corruption, & talks about Hong Kong’s covid19 response
Apr 7 8 tweets 2 min read
If this World Cup has taught me anything, it's that there are some that seem to think World Cups should only be held in former imperial states, nations that have infrastructure that has benefited from hundreds of years of colonial plunder, labour exploitation/child labour, that are net arms exporters, that have imprisoned and sterilised people for their sexual preferences. Countries that have killed millions in wars, contributed the most to carbon emissions. Countries that somehow forget the tragedies on which they were built but feel morally
Apr 7 10 tweets 6 min read
🧵📢1/ I have been tracking a particular sockpuppet network for several weeks now. It focuses mostly on the Middle East, tweets in English, is pro-Israel and seems mostly hostile to Qatar, Turkey and Iran.

Read on!

#disinformation #WorldCup2022 2/ Initially there were around 40 accounts, but after Twitter suspended some, the number now is around 17. Before the deletions, a surprising amount were located in 'Scotland'. The remainder are an eclectic bunch, spread from Iraq and Yemen to Israel and Louisana.
Mar 24 13 tweets 7 min read
🧵1/Below you can see a network graph of twitter accounts sharing varying levels of false information about Marianna Podgurskaya, the Ukrainian woman who was injured while pregnant during the Russian bombing of a maternity hospital. #UkraineRussiaWar #disinformation 2/ After the initial round of fake news around Marianna, a new video surfaced claiming she was taking Russian aid. There is no basis to believe this woman is Marianna. The tweets analyzed here mainly concern the tweets sharing that video, all of which intend to discredit her by