Saudi highlights 500,000 "unknown" Twitter accounts

Authorities say accounts are compromising the kingdom’s security but will not be blocked
By Beatrice Thomas
Wed 21 May 2014 11:09 AM

Saudi security authorities have detected more than half a million Twitter accounts with unknown information compromising the kingdom’s security and creating confusion among citizens, it was reported.

However, Ministry of Interior spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al Turki, declared that despite the high number, he had no intention to block any social networking sites or rein in the number of account holders, Saudi Gazette reported.

“Such a move is not part of our security strategy,” he was quoted as saying.

Most internet users in Saudi Arabia, the most populous country in the Gulf, use the micro-blogging website, according to a global study carried out by GlobalWebIndex last year.

Of the kingdom’s total internet users, about 51 percent are active on Twitter.

It has stirred broad debate on subjects ranging from religion to politics in a country where such public discussion had been considered at best unseemly and sometimes illegal.

Last year reports emerged that Saudi Arabia may try to end anonymity for Twitter users by limiting access to the site to people who register their identification documents.

At the time the security spokesman for Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry described social networking, particularly Twitter, as a tool used by militants to stir social unrest.

The country's Grand Mufti, Saudi Arabia's top cleric, has described users of the micro-blogging site as “clowns” wasting time with frivolous and even harmful discussions, local newspapers reported.

Al Turki said the ministry declined to have a Twitter account, saying it was unnecessary “to interact with society”.

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