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Saudi Arabia finds 6.7 million social media accounts ‘malicious’

Report: About 99 percent of material promoting deviant ideologies and thoughts in Saudi Arabia are reportedly propagated through Twitter

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More than 6.7 million accounts on social media networks managed by individuals and groups inside the Saudi Arabia promote immorality, deviant religious and political thoughts, suspicious economic and financial ventures, a recent study revealed.

About 99 percent of material promoting deviant ideologies and thoughts in Saudi Arabia are reportedly propagated through Twitter, the study said, adding that most of these Twitter accounts are established by individuals. An individual can open several accounts on Twitter and some of them could be fake.

The study conducted by sociologist Ibrahim Al-Suhaimi on the role of social media in spreading deviant thoughts among Saudi youths also found Facebook and YouTube attracting the majority of young Saudi men and women.

Al-Watan Arabic daily, which published the study, said it focused on topics exchanged on social media, how often they are repeated or shared, the number of likes to published articles and video clips and the number of YouTube viewers.

Groups that promote immorality represented 94.6 percent or 6.38 million, followed by those promoting deviant political thoughts 4 percent, or 265,664. A total of 37,086 groups (0.55 percent) promote religious deviation, 35,256 groups (0.52 percent) cultural and educational deviation and 4,178 groups (0.07 percent) propagate suspicious economic projects and illicit trade.

Al-Suhaimi depended on articles and videos published on social media networks for his study in order to understand how deviant groups entice young men and women in Saudi Arabia.

“As a result of the influence of these deviant groups people, especially youth, learn wrong ideas about Islam, engage in immorality and become drug addicts,” he said.

Speaking about the damaging impact of deviant groups on families, he said they propagate ideas against polygamy, discourage early marriage and encourage young women not to give birth to children.

Referring to economic deviation, Al-Suhaimi said some social media groups promote extravagance in weddings and other ceremonies and encourage illegal trade.

Elaborating on political deviation, he said many groups disseminate falsifications about the Saudi rulers and describe them as infidels.

They also “promote terrorist activities, political demonstrations and protest marches, recruit young men and women for deviant groups and support racism and tribalism,” he added.

This article first appeared in the Saudi Gazette on Dec. 3, 2015.