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Facebook suspends fake accounts tied to Saudi government

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on August 2, 2019 - Duration: 01:39s

Facebook suspends fake accounts tied to Saudi government

People connected to the government of Saudi Arabia have run a network of fake accounts and pages on Facebook to promote state propaganda and attack regional rivals, the social media giant said on Thursday.

Havovi Cooper reports.

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Facebook suspends fake accounts tied to Saudi government

Facebook on Thursday announced it disabled a network of fake accounts and pages - run by people connected to Saudi Arabia - promoting state propaganda and attacking regional rivals like Qatar... the first such activity Facebook has linked to the Saudi government.

In all, more than 350 accounts and pages were suspended - most of them on Facebook and Instagram- with about 1.4 million followers.

Some fake pages were designed to look like local news outlets and others posed as Saudi citizens... 90 percent of the content was in Arabic with some of the accounts essentially operating as fan pages for the Saudi government and military.

For example - one of the posts released by Facebook on Thursday showed the crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, kissing the bandaged head of a patient in a hospital bed, with the caption, "Why do #Saudis love their leaders the way they love their family !?

Simply; because their leaders share the same feelings with them." The posts came during a time of intense pressure on the crown prince who has been linked to the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year - with a United Nations report citing 'credible evidence' against the crown prince.

The crown prince has denied any involvement in Khashoggi's death.

Facebook's crackdown of the Saudi-backed pages - just the latest in an ongoing effort by the company to combat what it calls "coordinated inauthentic behavior" on its platform..

The Saudi government media office did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

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