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Twitter deletes thousands of accounts used to spread Saudi and Egyptian propaganda

Social media giant says accounts were amplifying messages critical of Iran, Qatar and Turkey, among others
Twitter says it removed 5,350 accounts associated with Saudi Arabia (AFP/File photo)

Twitter has deleted thousands of accounts on Thursday that were used to spread propaganda on behalf of Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

The social media giant said in a post on its platform that it deleted 5,350 accounts from Saudi Arabia for "amplifying content praising Saudi leadership, and critical of Qatar and Turkish activity in Yemen".

It said the Saudi-linked accounts were run out of the kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, where Twitter's Middle East headquarters is based, as well as Egypt.

The company also said it took down 2,541 accounts linked to the Egypt-based El Fagr media group after having found it had created "inauthentic accounts to amplify messaging critical of Iran, Qatar and Turkey".

Twitter said it took the actions because the accounts violated its policies and represented a targeted attempt to undermine public conversation.

The action by the social media giant comes more than four months after it found Riyadh was manipulating the platform to further its global political interests. 

On 20 December last year, Twitter responded by taking down almost 6,000 accounts it deemed to be tied to a state-backed information operation in Saudi Arabia.

The latest announcement comes after prominent Saudi social media activists have complained of government-backed Twitter bots targeting their accounts. 

Slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi complained of threats he would receive from accounts supportive of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before he was brutally murdered at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. 

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