Facebook thwarts Saudi propaganda efforts
by Harvest Prude
Posted 8/02/19, 11:06 am
The social media giant said Thursday it had taken down a network of covert Saudi-led propaganda accounts. It removed more than 370 inauthentic Facebook and Instagram profiles, pages, and groups that had gained more than 13.7 million followers. It was the first time Facebook has unearthed an influence campaign linked to the officials in the Saudi government.
What were the Saudis trying to accomplish? Masquerading as local citizens and news outlets covering the Middle East and North Africa, the accounts focused on praising the Saudi government’s handling of various regional and political issues. So far this year, Facebook has announced nearly a dozen takedowns of illicit influence campaigns based in Russia, Thailand, and elsewhere.
Dig deeper: U.S. lawmakers and human rights advocates have soured on Saudi Arabia over its long history of brutal behavior, including the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last year. The Trump administration has maintained its diplomatic partnership with the kingdom despite pressure from Congress.
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Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.