Somali sock puppet network: endorsing anti-Qatar and anti-Turkey propaganda on social media

The guidance of community estimation via social media platforms has developed as a critical subject facing contemporary digital society. Fake news is spreading like wildfire via social media platforms. Journalism is fronting upsurge competition from social media advertising. Strategic data spread targeting political campaigns are undermining the reliability of the world’s democratic institutions.

If we talk about today’s scenario, social media disinformation campaigns are in common around the globe. A cumulative number of realms have experienced coordinated social-media manipulation campaigns.

Recently, the “Somali sock puppet” network has been detected by Misinformation experts, endorsing Pro Emirati, anti-Qatar, and anti- Turkey Campaigns on different social media platforms. The network was exposed on Wednesday by Dr. Marc Owen Jones, (assistant professor of Middle East studies at Hamad bin Khalifa University) in Doha, Qatar.

Professionals have discovered that the network comprises 30–40 sock puppet accounts. A term attached to a forged online profile created exclusively with the purpose of fraud.

State sponsored cyber warfare

For over a decade, Online information and deception have been playing a critical role in formative communal opinion throughout the MENA region. Different social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, used by them to demote their opponent’s reputation and create their good civic image in front of the audience.

Instances of disinformation campaigns against the Middle East-

1. The United Arab Emirate signed contracts worth millions of dollars with Pluteos AG (Swiss Corporate Intelligence Firm) long active in the country to lead influence campaigns in Europe against 2022 FIFA world cup nation Qatar.

2. Iran was accused of interfering in the Scottish Parliamentary election, spreading disinformation online. It had been meant to assist the pro-independence parties and destabilize the UK.

3. Qatar was also actively running influential campaigns, with the help of Italian consultant-journalist Paolo Fusi, against its adversaries exclusively on cases involving the International Football Federation Association (FIFA world cup 2022) and the attack of pro-UAE journalist and lobbyist such as Ghanem Nuseibeh’s Cornerstone Global.

In 2019, a total of 88,000 accounts were detached by twitter that was involved in “platform manipulating”. Twitter’s investigation revealed that the accounts were instigated by Smaat, a Saudi Arabian social media marketing company. Twitter said “accounts that were engaged in spammy actions were belligerently liking, retweeting, and responding to augment messages that were favourable to the Saudi Arabian management’s interests.

All these above-mentioned happenings specify how these disinformation campaigns ran with a political agenda in mind, generated support for their province by targeting their adversaries and making social media users believe of what they are saying is true.

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