July 28, 2022 | POLITICO

Arabic social media is a ‘Wild West’ for disinformation

ISD’s AMEA Executive Director, Moustafa Ayad, features in this article for POLITICO, where he shares ISD research on Arabic social media, “one of the fastest-growing demographics on social media, based on yearly new users, with 350 million Arabic speakers worldwide”, as reported by the outlet. Moustafa talks about the disparities in content moderation when it comes to content from the West versus the Middle East.

“Groups don’t have to hide what they are doing because the moderation is so full of holes”, he said. “It’s just so frustrating. [The social media companies] did investigations around the U.S. elections, even though they were late. It doesn’t feel like they’re doing that in [the] Middle East, proactively or reactively”.

Specifically, Moustafa recently discovered a network of at least 11 Twitter handles disguising themselves as conventionally attractive women, pushing pro-Kremlin narratives in Arabic. Many of these profiles were able to gain large followings and were only taken down when POLITICO flagged the evidence found by ISD.