Thursday, July 28, 2016

"How Twitter robots spam critics of Saudi Arabia"

"For several weeks now there has been growing evidence that Twitter is being used for a covert and highly organised propaganda operation which disparages Shia Muslims while supporting the Sunni Muslim governments of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The tactic is to deluge Twitter with multiple copies of identical tweets. These come from fake (robotic) accounts which are programmed to post tweets at fixed intervals. Last month Twitter closed down hundreds of suspect accounts but new ones were created. Altogether, several thousand robotic accounts are involved in the operation though they are not all active simultaneously. Besides inflaming sectarian tensions in the region, the apparent purpose is to obstruct genuine discussion on certain topics by swamping the relevant hashtag with automated tweets. The automated tweets often link to YouTube videos which have no connection with the topic.  The latest example — uncovered by Marc Owen Jones, who lectures in Gulf politics at Tübingen University in Germany — seems aimed at stifling criticism by Twitter users of Saudi Arabia’s economic aid package for Egypt."