“The World is Swimming in a Sea of Rumors”: Influence Operations Associated with El Fagr Newspaper (Egypt) (TAKEDOWN)
On April 2, 2020 Twitter announced the takedown of a collection of data sets attributed to state influence operations in several countries. One of those datasets was attributed to actors within Egypt – specifically, accounts linked to the El Fagr newspaper. El Fagr has previously been named in coordinated inauthentic activity takedowns on Facebook and Instagram, which took down a network related to their pro-Egyptian government activity in October 2019.
As with several other influence operations executed in the MENA region pre- viously attributed to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE, the content consisted of a mix of auto-generated tweets from religious apps, commercial content, news content (often propaganda in support of the party or politician behind the operation), as well as subversive political astroturfing content created by accounts that appear to be fake people. The political astroturf identities were often created within a tight time cluster and subsequently deployed towards a particular topic, often the discussion of a specific incident, with very little additional chatter or any significant persona development.
This takedown assessment explores the tactics, techniques, and themes unique to this Egypt-attributed Twitter network, and discusses several commonalities with El Fagr’s past coordinated inauthentic behavior.