Who Are the Twitter Trolls Trying to Discredit Outspoken Critics of Algeria's Elections?

Published December 9th, 2019 - 11:15 GMT
A Twitter campaign appears to be attacking critics opposed to Algerian elections (Shutterstock)
A Twitter campaign appears to be attacking critics opposed to Algerian elections (Shutterstock)

The hashtag #زيطوط_خائن which translates to Zitout is a traitor in English, has been trending on Twitter after former Algerian diplomat Mohamed Zitout spoke out against December elections in the country. 

Translation: "A massive crowd in all parts of the country reflects the people's determination and rejection of the elections, despite the crackdown campaign of arrests, intimidation and harassment against citizens. God bless freedom of the people."

The Hirak protest movement in Algeria that took down former president Bouteflika in April has evolved since it first began in February. 

Protesters today reject the upcoming elections on account of the five candidates having ties to the same political elite that tainted Bouteflika's presidency. 

Meanwhile, counter demonstrations were organized to compete with the Hirak protesters' demands to scrap the vote. Authorities have also been accused of cracking down of protesters with reports of arbitrary arrests and human rights violations. 

Mohamed Zitout describes himself as a political rights activist but there is also speculation by some that he might have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood or that he might be exploiting the situation in Algeria to his benefit. 

The trending hashtag against him was populated with tweets calling him a traitor and a snitch.   

But a digital analyst on Twitter who examined the accounts and tweets posting under the hashtag found them to be suspicious. 

The Doha-based Mid East studies professor discovered that many of the accounts were created between September and December of this year. 

He also found that 154 of the accounts tweeting under the hashtag #ZitoutIsATraitor were created on December 8th, the very same day the trend began. 

A closer look at some of the accounts reveals that are either brand new or share posts strictly condemning Zitout or supporting elections. 

A number of them have a very small following and limited number of tweets, indicating that they might have been set up strictly for the purpose of making the topic trend.

Mohamed Zitout was a diplomat based in Libya before emigrating to the UK during the Algerian civil war and has been critical of the Algerian government ever since.

© 2000 - 2021 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

You may also like