Twitter says action taken against Netanyahu bot network

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during an elections campaign press conference at his Jerusalem residence on April 1, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 02 April 2019
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Twitter says action taken against Netanyahu bot network

  • Twitter “has taken action where violations are identified” to ensure healthy dialogue online during election cycles

JERUSALEM: Twitter said on Tuesday it has “taken action” after an Israeli watchdog exposed an alleged bot network spreading propaganda in support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and smearing his opponents.

Noam Rotem, one of the researchers behind the report, said Tuesday he has seen Twitter shut down 258 of the over 400 automated and fake accounts his team identified.

Twitter did not comment on the number of accounts removed, but said that the platform prohibits fabricated accounts and “has taken action where violations are identified” to ensure healthy dialogue online during election cycles.

With just a week until the national vote, the pro-Netanyahu bot network discovery jolted Israel’s already turbulent campaign season.

Netanyahu lambasted the report as “libel,” and his challenger Benny Gantz accused him of “trying to steal the election.”

Netanyahu’s Likud party had denied using fake accounts. 

In a video clip dismissing the report’s findings, Likud said 985,408 Israelis had voted for Netanyahu in the previous election in 2015.

Separately, the premier’s office said that Netanyahu will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday, just five days ahead of an April 9 Israeli election.

Netanyahu has held a series of meetings with foreign leaders in the runup to the vote, helping him further his argument that he is Israel’s irreplaceable statesman. His office did not provide further details in its brief statement on the meeting.

Israel and Russia coordinate their military activity in Syria to avoid accidental clashes.


Former Egyptian president Morsi buried in Cairo: lawyer

Updated 41 min 57 sec ago
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Former Egyptian president Morsi buried in Cairo: lawyer

  • Morsi, was suffering from a benign tumor, had continuous medical attention, says state TV
  • The former president died aged 67

CAIRO: Egypt’s first democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi was buried on Tuesday in eastern Cairo, one of his lawyers said, a day after he collapsed in court and died.

“He was buried in Medinat Nasr, in eastern Cairo, with his family present. The funeral prayer was said in Tora prison hospital” where he was declared dead on Monday, his lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maksoud said.

Egyptian state television announced that Morsi, 67, who was ousted by the military on July 3, 2013, had been attending a court session at his trial on charges of espionage and links with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

It was reported that he collapsed in the courtroom inside a glass cage he and others had been sharing, before his body was transferred to a local hospital.

Morsi died from a sudden heart attack, state television reported early on Tuesday, citing a medical source. The source said the former president, who was suffering from a benign tumor, had continuous medical attention.

Attorney-General Nabil Sadiq issued a statement saying: “The accused, Mohammed Morsi, in the presence of the other defendants inside the cage, fell unconscious, where he was immediately transferred to the hospital.

“The preliminary medical report stated that by external medical examination they found no pulse, no breathing, and his eyes were unresponsive to light. He died at 4:50 p.m. and no apparent injuries to the body were found.”

Sadiq added he had ordered the transfer of teams from the Supreme State Security Prosecution Office and the Southern Cairo Prosecution Office to conduct an investigation into Morsi’s death, and to examine surveillance footage from the courtroom and collect witness testimonies.

He also ordered that a senior forensic committee headed by the chief medical officer and the director of forensic medicine to prepare a forensic report on the cause of death.

Various outlets say that a state of high alert has been issued by the military and the Ministry of the Interior throughout the country following the news, for fear of riots or activity by the Muslim Brotherhood, in which Morsi was a prominent figure.

Morsi became president in June 2012 after the first democratic elections in the country following the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak on Jan. 25, 2011. He was Egypt’s fifth president.

He was born to a family of farmers on Aug. 20, 1951, in the village of Al-Adwa in Sharkia province. He married in 1978 and leaves behind his wife, five children and three grandchildren.

Following his deposition and arrest, Morsi was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on Oct. 22, 2016, over bloody clashes that took place on Dec. 5, 2012 in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and opponents of Morsi rejecting a constitutional declaration issued in November of that year.

Other sentences meant his total incarceration could have been up to 48 years, with the ongoing espionage case potentially carrying a further maximum sentence of 25 years.

In Istanbul on Tuesday, hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters took to the streets, mourning former Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi and some chanting slogans blaming Cairo authorities for his death.

* With AFP