Qatar praises Twitter crackdown on pro-Saudi spam bots

Qatar praises Twitter crackdown on pro-Saudi spam bots
2 min read
15 November, 2018
Qatar said Twitter's crackdown on fake accounts helped remove "weaponised propaganda" against the state.
Twitter has removed hundreds of fake profiles pushing pro-Saudi messages [Getty]

Qatar has welcomed a Twitter drive to remove "millions" of automated spam bots which were being used to attack the country amid a Saudi-led dispute.

"Qatar recognizes that many of Twitter's efforts (to remove the more than 8-10 million fake accounts a week) have helped remove some of the weaponized propaganda and hate speech spread against our nation during the current blockade," Qatar's government communications office said in a statement on Wednesday.

Online attacks against the small Gulf state have surged since former GCC allies Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE - along with Egypt - launched a surprise blockade on Qatar in June 2017, accusing Doha of moving closer to Iran and supporting extremist groups in the region.

Doha denies the charges, and has said the Saudi-led blockade was aimed at making Qatar a vassal state.

Read more: Khashoggi's disappearance: A new twist in bitter Gulf battle

Spam bots went into overdrive last month as Saudi Arabia faced international backlash over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Twitter was spammed with pro-Riyadh messages attempting to cast doubt the kingdom was involved in Khashoggi's murder. 

The social network said last month it removed hundreds of fake profiles for breaching its terms of use, with many of them originating from the Gulf. The move followed a probe by NBC News.

The pro-Saudi bots discovered by NBC used the hashtag #We_all_trust_Mohammad_Bin_Salman according to the broadcaster.

They also suggested that there was a campaign from outside Saudi Arabia against the kingdom and crown prince.