Twitter removes thousands of Saudi ‘state-backed’ accounts

Stock image of a man using a phone, with the screen showing the twitter logoImage copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Twitter said it had removed 5,925 accounts for violating its “platform manipulation” policies

Twitter has banned almost 6,000 accounts for being part of an alleged state-backed information operation originating in Saudi Arabia.

The social media network announced the bans in a public blog posted on Friday.

It accused the accounts of violating its “platform manipulation policies” as part of a “significant” operation.

Twitter said they were part of a larger network of more than 88,000 accounts engaging in “spammy behaviour” on a “wide range of topics”.

“Primarily, accounts were amplifying messages favourable to Saudi authorities, mainly through inauthentic engagement tactics such as aggressive liking, retweeting and replying,” the platform said in its post.

Twitter said the majority of the content was in Arabic, but some also “related to events relevant to Western audiences”.

  • Ex-Twitter employees accused of spying
  • Why Twitter is so big in Saudi Arabia
  • Saudi Arabia country profile

Twitter believe the “co-ordinated” activity can be traced to a social media marketing company called Smaat based in Saudi Arabia.

BBC News has approached both the Saudi government and Smaat for comment about Twitter’s allegations.

The bans follow an announcement by Twitter in September that seven Saudi accounts, including that of a former royal adviser, had been banned for similar alleged behaviour.