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Twitter Takes Down Emirati, Egyptian Anti-Iran & Anti-Qatar Pages

Twitter Takes Down Emirati, Egyptian Anti-Iran & Anti-Qatar Pages
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By Staff, Agencies

Twitter has suspended a large network of 4,258 accounts which it said were operated exclusively from the United Arab Emirates [UAE], employing fake names and tweeting mostly about Qatar and Yemen.

It also removed a network of 267 accounts in the UAE and Egypt which Twitter said were engaged in a "multi-faceted information operation" targeting Qatar and Iran while amplifying messages supportive of the Saudi government.

The company said those accounts were managed by a private company called DotDev, which identifies itself on its website as a "custom software solutions company based in Abu Dhabi." DotDev also has an Egyptian affiliate based in Giza, outside of Cairo.

Twitter's actions follow on the heels of Facebook's removal last month of 350 fake accounts and pages promoting Saudi propaganda, which marked the first time a tech company had linked such activity back to the Saudi government.

Facebook said at the same time it had also suspended a separate network of more than 350 accounts linked to marketing firms called New Waves in Egypt and Newave in the UAE.

Meanwhile, Twitter has permanently suspended the account of former Saudi royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani, the social network confirmed in its blog.

The 41-year-old al-Qahtani was officially appointed an adviser to the royal court in 2012.

Following the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the United States identified the former adviser as the mastermind of the murder.

He was sanctioned and banned from entering the United States along with 15 other individuals suspected of being involved in the incident.

In October 2018, al-Qahtani was dismissed as the royal court's supervisor of media affairs after which he stopped using Twitter.

Twitter suspended six other accounts linked to the Saudi government which were presenting themselves as independent journalistic outlets "while tweeting narratives favorable to the Saudi government," it said.

The Saudi government communications office did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment on Friday.