created Nov 18, 2019
Saudi activist alleges the Saudi government threatened 30+ influencers by saying they would release hacked private material if they don't tweet propaganda
WaPo story: Saudi spies hacked my phone and tried to stop my activism. I won’t stop fighting
In the fight against the online campaigns targeting Saudi citizens, I had a powerful ally and friend in Jamal Khashoggi, who recognized the power of Twitter to shape public opinion in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab world. Jamal was murdered because he was willing to fight trolls and propaganda with truth and ideas. But we are still learning how far Saudi Arabia — and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — is willing to go to monitor and silence critics online.
Last week, the Justice Department announced that it was charging two former Twitter employees with spying for Saudi Arabia by accessing the company’s information on dissidents on the platform. I was one of the targets.
It’s all been part of a coordinated campaign of harassment. Saudi Arabia, using spyware sold by the Israeli company NSO Group, hacked my phone to read my messages with Jamal, with whom I was working to identify and combat Saudi trolls on Twitter, which we called the “electronic bees.” We were working together to organize an army of volunteers to counter them.
To understand why they cared so much about protecting their Twitter trolls you have to understand the popularity and importance of Twitter for Saudis.
Twitter trolls equal engagement, and engagement equals revenue for Twitter, which refuses to curb its cesspool quality in any meaningful way, since "real" changes at Twitter could hurt revenue, which would infuriate Wall Street.
Twitter Users Share Responsibility for Creating a Cesspool.
This part of the WaPo piece seems strange to me:
Since we didn’t have a lot of options for entertainment in Saudi Arabia, we coped with our environment by living a different reality on our smartphones. Twitter soon became crucial to exercise the first element of individual liberty: freedom of expression. The platform’s popularity exploded among Saudis virtually overnight. We lived democratically on Twitter. People posted freely.
Twitter is a silo. It has zero obligation to be a platform of freedom of expression, and it's not. Twitter's main purpose is to enrage people.
The internet offers people a chance at freedom of expression.
Saudi Twitter gradually morphed into a propaganda platform, with the government deploying trolls and pressuring influencers to amplify its messages. McKinsey & Company, the consulting firm, prepared a report on how public opinion is shaped on Twitter.
Twitter does not shape my opinion about anything. Twitter has become one of those suspicious sources of info where it's okay to say, "yeah but consider the source."
The scary part and maybe the worst part of all is the fact that so many journalists and media orgs use Twitter heavily. Twitter is a misinformation machine.
It’s sad to see that Twitter may be one of the factors behind Jamal’s brutal murder. It’s a heartbreaking development because we had so much hope on the platform.
Twitter is a silo that needs to produce revenue numbers to satisfy Wall Street. That's all.
In 2013, Jamal posted: “Someday Twitter will win a Nobel prize.” But now we see it’s slipping into darkness. Will Twitter take measures to protect our public square?
Of course not. And Twitter has never been the public square. Silo platforms are not designed to be public squares.
The open internet is the public square. Email and web are probably the two most popular applications to run over the internet. It's unfortunate that people believe that Twitter is their savior.
Dec 8, 2019
The cesspool, Twitter, is a legal place to post libelous content.