Oct 18, 2018 - Technology

Report: Twitter suspends bots tweeting in support of Saudis on Khashoggi

Khashoggi in a picture

Photo: Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Twitter has suspended hundreds of bot accounts that have been tweeting in support of Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in light of Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance, NBC News’ Ben Collins and Shoshana Wodinsky report.

The intrigue: The bots were posting sporadically, which may have helped them avoid detection for some time, per Ben Nimmo, who tracks online misinformation campaigns at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Lab.

  • Many of the accounts were fairly old for a botnet — many were created last November and some were created in 2011 and 2014 — which also came as somewhat of a surprise.

The bots were tweeting messages that sought to sow doubt that Khashoggi’s disappearance and suspected death is linked to the kingdom. It was not clear who had created the accounts.

There’s not necessarily evidence all the accounts were pro-Saudi, according to Twitter, which points to how difficult attribution can be. The accounts were removed for violating Twitter’s spam policy.

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