Twitter bans bots spreading pro-Saudi messages

Twitter chief executive officer Jack Dorsey testifies during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing concerning foreign influence in use of social media platforms, on Capitol Hill, September 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. 

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Twitter chief executive officer Jack Dorsey testifies during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing concerning foreign influence in use of social media platforms, on Capitol Hill, September 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. 

A network of suspected Twitter bots was suspended Thursday after appearing to coordinate the spread of pro-Saudi talking points about the alleged killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

NBC News first reported the suspension after presenting Twitter that has a list of hundreds of accounts of which spread identical pro-Saudi government tweets at the same time.

The coordinated tweets seem to be an effort at bringing global attention to pro-Saudi talking points within the wake of Saudi journalist Khashoggi’s suspected killing. Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government as well as a Washington Post columnist, disappeared after an Oct. 2 visit to the Saudi consulate in Turkey. Turkish officials have said they have audio as well as video evidence of which Khashoggi was killed by Saudis inside the consulate. The Saudis have denied any involvement.

The tweets included a hashtag of which became a top Twitter trend worldwide on Sunday. The Arabic hashtag roughly translates to “#We_all_trust_Mohammad_Bin_Salman.” Mohammad Bin Salman is actually the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. the item was not immediately clear who created accounts.

A Twitter spokesperson told NBC News of which the company had already suspended pro-Saudi government accounts for violating spam policies prior to learning of the additional suspected bots. In recent months, Twitter has begun to crack down on suspected bot accounts by purging “locked accounts” of which have exhibited suspicious activity. During a purge of which summer, Twitter’s own account lost 7.7 million followers.

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