Mystery of Saudi journalist Khashoggi's missing tweets

The Saudi Arabia’s consulate is cordoned off by Turkish police in Istanbul on October 15, 2018 during the investigation over missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (AFP)
Updated 16 October 2018
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Mystery of Saudi journalist Khashoggi's missing tweets

RIYADH: Unusual activity has been observed on Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s Twitter account since his disappearance on Oct. 2 — with a total of 163 old tweets having been deleted.
This has raised questions about the identity of the person managing Khashoggi’s Twitter account — and whether it is his alleged fiancée Hatice (Khadija) Cengiz. It was reported that all of Khashoggi’s cellphones are in her possession; yet Khashoggi’s ex-wife, Alaa Nassif, has said neither she nor Khashoggi’s family had any knowledge of Khadija.
On the day of Khashoggi’s disappearance, he had not followed anyone new and the number of the accounts he followed was 778, according to the analytics tool SocialBlade.

After US commandos killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011, Khashoggie tweeted about how he had “collapsed crying.” He wrote on Twitter: “I collapsed crying a while ago, heartbroken for you Abu Abdullah (Bin Laden’s nickname). You were beautiful and brave in those beautiful days in Afghanistan, before you surrendered to hatred and passion.”
After US commandos killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011, Khashoggi tweeted about how he had “collapsed crying.” He wrote on Twitter: “I collapsed crying a while ago, heartbroken for you Abu Abdullah (Bin Laden’s nickname). You were beautiful and brave in those beautiful days in Afghanistan, before you surrendered to hatred and passion.”


That day, an additional 20 tweets were posted on Khashoggi’s account. Yet between Oct. 3 and Oct. 15, a total of 163 tweets were deleted — including 90 tweets on Oct. 4 alone. The number of accounts followed by Khashoggi also dropped by five during the same period — although it is not clear whether these accounts were deliberately unfollowed.

Rogue killers: Read US President Donald Trump’s latest comments on the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi

A Saudi Twitter user named Trad Al-Asmari has also monitored Khashoggi’s account and posted the findings online.
Questions have been raised over the kind of tweets being deleted from Khashoggi’s account, given the controversial nature of some of his posts, in which he had expressed views that could have been deemed sympathetic to Al-Qaeda and Daesh.

In another tweet, Khashoggi apparently aimed to justify Daesh’s tactic of beheading people.


Lebanese political activist Nidal Sabeh said in a tweet about the activity on Khashoggi’s account:
“The person managing the Twitter account of Jamal Khashoggi has removed me from his friends list. His account has been recently very active, deleting several tweets and unfollowing accounts Jamal used to follow. I have no idea what could be the purpose of this act, but it certainly is noticeable.”


Facebook CEO says delay in flagging fake Pelosi video was ‘execution mistake’

Updated 44 min 53 sec ago
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Facebook CEO says delay in flagging fake Pelosi video was ‘execution mistake’

Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday said his social media company took too long to flag as false an altered video of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that appeared to show the Democratic Representative slurring and tripping through a speech.
Zuckerberg, speaking at a conference in Aspen, Colorado, said the slow response was “an execution mistake on our side.”
The video, a type of realistic alteration known as a “deepfake,” was slowed to make Pelosi’s speech seem slurred and edited to make it appear that she repeatedly stumbled over her words. After the video surfaced last month, it was widely shared on Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube.
YouTube took down the video, citing policy violations, but Facebook did not remove the clip, only limiting its distribution and telling users trying to share it that it might be misleading.
“It took a while for our system to flag the video and for our fact checkers to rate it as false... and during that time it got more distribution than our policies should have allowed,” Zuckerberg said.
Pelosi criticized Facebook’s refusal to remove the video and said the incident had convinced her the company knowingly enabled Russian election interference.
Misinformation through altered videos is a rising concern in the run-up to the 2020 US presidential election, especially as artificial intelligence (AI) is now being used to produce clips that look genuine and realistically appear to show people saying words they have not spoken. The term “deepfake” is a combination of “deep learning” and “fake.”
After the Pelosi video, Zuckerberg himself was portrayed in a spoof deepfake video on Instagram in which he appears to say “whoever controls the data, controls the future.” Facebook, which owns Instagram, did not to take down the video.
Zuckerberg said Facebook is considering developing a specific policy on deepfakes.
“This is a little bit of sausage making here because we are going through the policy process of thinking through what the deepfake policy should be,” he said. “This is certainly an important area as the AI technology gets better.”