Saudi Troll Factory Is Under Fire, But What About US Proaganda Tools?

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Saudi Troll Factory Is Under Fire, But What About US Proaganda Tools?

Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister, Mohammed bin Salman, is depicted in cartoon form, running the operation from a command center (Rami Khoury/Albawaba)

The Saudi government relied on a “mole” inside Twitter and hired trolls to harass and silence critics, including the dissident Jamal Khashoggi, according to a NYT report. The trolls were also used to impact the public opinion on various topics, spanning from the Yemeni conflict to human rights.

On October 20th, Saudi Arabia admitted that Khashoggi had been killed in the consulate after a fight broke out. This came after 18 days of denying any knowledge of his whereabouts.

According to anonymous sources, cited by NYT, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his aides led the efforts to silence the voice of critics, including Khashoggi. This was allegedly done with the help of a Twitter employee, who had access to their account information.

“Saud al-Qahtani, a top adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed who was fired on Saturday in the fallout from Mr. Khashoggi’s killing, was the strategist behind the operation, according to United States and Saudi officials, as well as activist organizations,” the report said.

According to the outlet, Western intelligence officials suspect the employee spied on user accounts to aid the Saudi government.

Also, presumably executives at Twitter were aware of a Saudi scheme to gain access to account information as early as 2015. That is supposedly when intelligence officials told them that the Saudis were “grooming” an employee to spy on dissident accounts.

A Twitter spokesman refused comment for the NYT.

The report is based on interviews with seven people involved in those activities or “briefed on them; activists and experts who have studied them; and American and Saudi officials, along with messages seen by The New York Times that described the inner workings of the troll farm.”

The consulting giant McKinsey & Co. played a role, too, according to the Times, by helping the Saudi government analyze public perception of economic austerity measures announced in 2015. A spokesperson for McKinsey who refused to be named told MarketWatch:

“We were never commissioned by any authority in Saudi Arabia to prepare a report of any kind or in any form to identify critics. In our work with governments, McKinsey has not and never would engage in any work that seeks to target individuals based on their views.”

They added:

“The document in question was a brief overview of publicly available information looking at social media usage. It was not prepared for any government entity. Its intended primary audience was internal. We are horrified by the possibility, however remote, that it could have been misused in any way. At this point, we have seen no evidence to suggest that it was misused, but we are urgently investigating how and with whom the document was shared.”

These troll factory reports by MSM are not something uncommon. However, often such reprots are deisnged to blame Russia or China creating for them an image of the “empires of evil” and accusing them of intervening in the US internal affairs.

On October 17th, Twitter released 10 million tweets that had been circulated by alleged propaganda farms and their associated puppet accounts. The majority of the tweets aren’t new, they have been released previously by various outlets. Vox released own report on this issue “surprisingly” claiming that these tweets were a part of the Kremlin propaganda campaign.

According to Vox, four things became apparent from Twitter’s release:

  • The Russian company Internet Research Agency (IRA) is allegedly behind most of the tweets. The company was indicted earlier in 2018 by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. There is no evidence that IRA’s conduct had any effect on election results;
  • The trolls allegedly tried to influence and disrupt a broad range of local and global political debates; The Russian trolls tweeted more in Russian than in English;
  • Most, not all of the content is presumed to be to the extreme right’s favor;
  • Twitter released the data due to the incoming election to be more transparent about attempts to influence the election.

Separately, the US Department of Justice charged a Russian national in a $35 million election influence plot. Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, overseeing financial operations for a multinational social media influence campaign tied to the Russian government.

A wide-scale propaganda campaign is also ongoing against China. Beijing is being accused of attempts to spy with microchips, as well as meddle in the incoming mid-term elections on November 4th.

It’s an open secret that governments pursue their interest by seeking publicity with narratives of the sort. However, the observed media hysteria over Russian and Chinese “propaganda” and “cyber operations” looks unprecedented even if one ignores the lack of evidence provided to confirm the accusations.

Any actions by Beijing and Moscow to defend their informational security and to promote own interests, even through public channels like state-run TV networks, are depicted as “unprecedented” and “malicious”. The same appraoch is employed toward actions of any other state if they are performed by a side that is not allied to the US. The misconduct of US and allies is disregarded. It can be seen in the dominating US narrative in the MSM, with even the Netherlands and the UK media joining in on the “hysteria.”

Meanwhile, the US even allows propaganda entities linked to some states to operate on its soil, because it supports “agenda” of the Washington establishment. A recent example is Rick Gates admitting that he hired not one, but two companies filled with Israeli ex-intelligence officers to launch a propaganda campaign in Trump’s support.

It is also no secret that the US has the most capable propaganda machine and at least one of the most capable “cyber forces” around the globe. It runs multiple operations in various spots around the world. These actions are depicted by the MSM as necessary moves to defend “democracy”.

The NYT Saudi critique shows that the public journalist killing in the diplomatic facility is such a serious misconduct on their side that even the MSM cannot turn its back on the story. However, the critique of the Saudis will most likely not be as sharp as any “hysteria” over any actual or alleged Russian or Chinese misconduct.

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  • Merijn

    Yeah Send in Mo’ Wahhabistani, IsraHelli, Gringo and British Fucktard Hasbaras….Thy Shall be Hung Drawn & Quartered…. These Folks are Complete No-Brainers & Idiots…it Tells you something about the average Education & Intelligence Worldwide….I’m still waitin’ for a smart one….

  • MADE MAKER

    HOLLYWOOD.. is one of.. USA PROPAGANDA TOOLS

  • Lena Jones

    Saudi troll factory headquarters is located in tel aviv.

  • chris chuba

    It’s funny, FB just issued a report that they identified and countered Russian and Iranian trolls, LOL. I’m certain that that there was an avalanche of Iranians using fake alias’ to influence U.S. public opinion :-).

    BTW I used to visit Nikki Haley’s twitter account before I just couldn’t take the lunacy anymore. It was like being on Neptune without a spacesuit and having to deal with the atmosphere. There definitely were Saudis there pumping her up for her unwavering support for the Saudi genocide in Yemen. They used every talking point imaginable.

    • John Whitehot

      “It was like being on Neptune without a spacesuit and having to deal with the atmosphere”

      :D nice.

      although i suspect that Neptune is a planet which is substantially made, of atmosphere.
      Besides a small hypothesized internal rock/metal core, the blue giant is made of gases like methane and ammonia.

      these mixes of currents and convections move at unimaginable speeds for us earthlings, with forces that would tear up to bits anything getting near enough.

      • FlorianGeyer

        Neptune is an ideal place to re-locate Israel and much of the US then.

        Oh, I must not forget London as well :)

        • Gregory Casey

          + the House of Saud parts of Arabia and all who sail in him

          • FlorianGeyer

            Yes indeed. The ‘ships of the desert ‘ :)

      • chris chuba

        Fair enough, perhaps one of its moons has an atmosphere where you could at least stand, I believe Triton does but it’s an extremely hostile environment. I saw a horrible Netflix movie about genetically engineering some humans to live on one of the moons of Saturn because our planet was cooked.

        Fine with the premise but the movie was just awful. I guess the ‘message’ was if you transform a human physically into something else, is he or she still human. Again, premise fine but the execution of the movie bad.

  • Rob

    Yesterday post about Jordan was not correct. Now they have mentioned clearly that Jordan wants his land back.

    After delivery of S-300 to Syria and then the Saudi regime killing of Khashoggi this is another stroke to brutal Israeli state of foreigners. I have declared in 2017 that now the state of Israel and ISIS would not be saved even if they change the names from Israel to ISIS to SDF etc.

  • Rob

    The Washington and England regimes already butchering children in Middle East and Africa by contaminating drinking water by biological substances. They have covertly added one dozen viruses and bacteria in the rivers and ponds of Mideast and Africa to see the strength. So then they gonna use them in war with any strong country. This is a brutal war of evils against world population.

  • Brother Ma

    Both Israel and the House of Saud are ruled by zionists and or cryptozionists.U ntil they are neutralized we will have no peace.

  • Smaug

    Didn’t bother reading the article. So anyone who disagrees with you is a troll, now?

  • One of them is Trump!

  • zman

    Something is up. I haven’t figured it out yet, but something is happening. The whole Kashoggi thing, Germany having an attack of conscience cancelling military contracts with KSA, Trump dissing the Saudis..? Not to mention Erdos role, saying he has the whole story on Kashoggis death? What are the Zionists up to? Fixing to throw the Crown Prince under the bus for someone else? WTF?

  • John Brown

    So Twitter helped the Saudis to kill Jamal Khashoggi!!!

    I wonder how many others Twitter have helped the Saudis and Israhell etc to kill.

    It just keeps getting worse and worse for the empire.

    The Saudi government relied on a “mole” inside Twitter and hired trolls to harass and silence critics, including the dissident Jamal Khashoggi, according to a NYT report