San Francisco, Oct 19 : With the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi triggering a heated debate on Twitter, the micro-bloggiing site has pulled down a network of suspected Twitter bots trying the sway opinions in favour of the pro-Saudi stand on the issue, NBC News reported.
Josh Russell, an Indiana-based information technology professional, compiled a list of hundreds of accounts that tweeted and retweeted the same pro-Saudi government tweets at the same time.
Some of the bot accounts tweeted using a hashtag in Arabic that roughly translated to "#We_all_trust_Mohammad_Bin_Salman," the Crown Prince and putative leader of Saudi Arabia, who has come under increased international scrutiny following the disappearance of Khashoggi.
NBC News presented Twitter with the list on Thursday.
An unnamed Twitter employee, however, said the company was aware of the influence operation and had already suspended even more pro-Saudi government accounts before they were caught by researchers, the report said.
Khashoggi, a dissident living in self-imposed exile in the US where he contributed to The Washington Post, vanished after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
Turkish officials claim Khashoggi was tortured, killed and dismembered in the consulate by a hit squad which arrived from Riyadh -- claims denied by the Saudi government.