Twitter removes 267 UAE-based accounts, suspends 4,200 others

Sept. 20 (UPI) — Twitter said Friday it has terminated more than 250 United Arab Emirates-based accounts and suspended more than 4,000 over concerns about state-sponsored platform manipulation.

The social media giant said DotDev, a private technology company in the UAE and Egypt, was behind a coordinated effort involving the 267 accounts Twitter removed from its platform. The company said all DotDev-related accounts are permanently suspended.

“These accounts were interconnected in their goals and tactics: a multi-faceted information operation primarily targeting Qatar, and other countries such as Iran. It also amplified messaging supportive of the Saudi government,” Twitter wrote in a blog post.

“In October 2018, we disclosed the first comprehensive archive of state-backed information operations on Twitter. We launched this initiative to empower academic and public understanding of these coordinated campaigns around the world, and to empower independent, third-party scrutiny of these tactics on our platform.”

The company said the 4,200 suspended accounts were linked to a separate group that focused on issues involving Qatar and Yemen.

“These accounts were often employing false personae and tweeting about regional issues, such as the Yemeni civil war and the Houthi movement,” it noted.

The micro-blogging platform said it terminated an account belonging to former Saudi Arabia official Saud al-Qahtani for violating Twitter’s platform manipulation policies. Al-Qahtani, a confidant of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, ran the Saudi media center and has been linked to the death of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Twitter also noted removals of accounts based in China, Spain and Ecuador.

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