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#BoycottAmazonProducts': How Saudi bots, Twitter, and newspapers are reacting to accusations that their Crown Prince hacked Jeff Bezos' phone

Published by Business Insider on Thu, 23 Jan 2020

Social media users in Saudi Arabia are reacting angrily to accusations that Mohammed bin Salman hacked Jeff Bezos' phone.The hashtag #''''''_''''''_'''''' (#BoycottAmazonProducts) was used more than 10,000 times by 6 a.m. EST on Thursday. It was the top trending topic at that time.Videos of the Amazon app being deleted from an iPhone were also shared, while some accused Bezos of having an affair with Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's fiance.The popular Okaz newspaper also published an article titled "Jeff Bezos, fleeing from sin, uses accusation," which slammed his extramarital affair with his now-girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.In November 2018, after the Bezos-owned Washington Post revealed details of Khashoggi's murder, "Boycott Amazon" became Saudi Arabia's top trending topic.Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.Pro-Saudi social media, and Saudi newspapers and government officials, are reacting angrily to the accusation that their Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hacked Jeff Bezos' phone.Saudi officials refuted the claims on Tuesday, and on Thursday the hashtag #''''''_''''''_'''''' (#BoycottAmazonproducts) trended in Saudi Arabia, and was used 10,000 times by 5 a.m ET.The hashtag, started by a pro-government account with 60,000 followers called "MBS_MBSKSA," was trending at number one in Saudi Arabia as of 6 a.m. EST. The account was later suspended by Twitter.It echoes November 2018, when "Boycott Amazon" was the month's top trending topic after the Bezos-owned Washington Post revealed details of Jamal Khahoggi's murder.#''''''_''''''_''''''Boycott #amazon products which are owned by @Jeffbezos the world's biggest loser on divorce settlement who lost half of his fortune for cheating on his wife and messing around with the alleged #Khashoggi fiance who is actually a Turkey intelligent agent. pic.twitter.com/qq3Vtb44D9' Abdullah (@humann111) January 23, 2020On Thursday, fifty accounts posted 1,400 of the tweets using the hashtag, disinformation analyst Ben Nimmo noted on Twitter. Many of those accounts displayed signs of inauthentic activity.Tweets warning Bezos: "If you do not apologize, you will accept the loss of millions of dollars at the hands of the Saudi people" were also shared by dozens of accounts, typically distributing pro-government content.Multiple accounts also showed videos of the Amazon app being deleted from iPhones.#''''''_''''''_'''''' #BoycottAmazonproducts Done ' '' pic.twitter.com/5FjiCs3a3C' '''''' .. ' (@Raghod501) January 23, 2020In traditional media, the popular Okaz newspaper also published an opinion article by journalist Sultan bin Bandar on Wednesday night, titled "Jeff Bezos, fleeing from sin using accusation."This referred to Bezos' extramarital affair with Lauren Sanchez, his now-girlfriend. There is mounting speculation that the alleged Saudi hack is tied to the National Enquirer tabloid's publishing of Bezos' intimate texts to Sanchez in early 2019, and threats to publish intimate photos.Bezos is attempting "to distort the Saudi image," bin Bandar wrote, and said The Washington Post ' which Bezos owns ' is "leading an unjust campaign against Saudi Arabia and the crown prince."The article added that The Guardian, which broke the news of the alleged hack, shows "long-term hostility to Saudi Arabia."The UN backed The Guardian's reportingin a Wednesday statement and called for an "immediate investigation."The Saudi embassy in Washington, DC, said on Tuesday the notion that Crown Prince Mohammed hacked Bezos' phone was "absurd."Recent media reports that suggest the Kingdom is behind a hacking of Mr. Jeff Bezos' phone are absurd. We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out.' Saudi Embassy (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) January 22, 2020"I think absurd is exactly the right word," Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told Reuters in Davos on Wednesday. "The idea that the crown prince would hack Jeff Bezos' phone is absolutely silly."None of the other prominent Saudi newspapers have published opinion articles about Bezos, but many, including the Saudi Gazette, reported the embassy's and foreign minister's denial.Other attacks on Twitter suggested Bezos was having an affair with Hatice Cengiz, the fiance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who died at the hands of Saudi agents in October 2018. He wrote articles criticizing the Saudi government and Crown Prince Mohammed for The Washington Post.Read more:How the Saudis and the National Enquirer are linked to the alleged hacking and blackmail attempt against Jeff BezosCNN anchor Jake Tapper trolled the Saudi government, saying Jamal Khashoggi could have investigated the reported Jeff Bezos phone hack 'but you killed him'6 big things we still don't know in the bombshell report saying Jeff Bezos' phone was hacked by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin SalmanSaudi officials close to the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly knew of plans to hack Bezos phoneJoin the conversation about this storyNOW WATCH: How autopilot on an airplane works
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