Saudi Arabia is one of America’s biggest trading partners. The oil-rich country has almost as money as they have sand in their deserts. And they like to throw a lot of that money America’s way. But Saudi Arabia has a dark side. Rumors of Saudi participation in the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York still vibrate through the United States.
President Trump has a strong business relationship with the Saudi Crown Prince and other Saudi high-ranking officials. Trump sold part of the Plaza Hotel to a Saudi investor a few years ago, and the Saudis continue to buy apartments in Trump properties. Plus, Saudi government officials who come to Washington stay at Trump’s International Hotel when they are in town on official business. Several people believe Mr. Trump defends the Saudi government because of his relationship with Saudi Arabia even though the country has a history of human rights violations. Trump also gives Saudi Arabia a pass because the Saudis buy weapons and airplanes from American companies.
But the latest Saudi debacle may change the way Americans look at Saudi Arabia. Washington Post news correspondent Jamal Khashoggi went into the Saudi Consulate in Turkey a few weeks ago, and he never came out. The Saudi government just admitted Khashoggi died during an altercation in the Consulate. It took the Saudi more than two weeks to admit Saudi henchmen were responsible for Khashoggi’s demise.
But it didn’t take Twitter that long to remove the Pro-Saudi Bots that were pushing Pro-Saudi rhetoric on the social media site. NBC News gave Twitter hundreds of accounts that tweeted and retweeted simultaneous pro-Saudi government tweets. A Twitter representative said the Saudi accounts broke Twitter spam rules, so they suspended those accounts from the Twitter website.
New social media research shows the bots used by Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, and China play a role in shaping American political views. Twitter is taking a pro-active stand by identifying and suspending these foreign bot-accounts that played a role in the 2016 election. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asked for help in identifying these accounts because there are signs that these accounts are trying to influence the 2018 midterm elections.