Mona Elswah spoke to Al Jazeera in their series on how the role of social media has evolved in the Middle East since the Arab Spring.
“In many ways, Twitter is not a meaningful platform in the Middle East, especially the Gulf, because it’s so inundated with spam, fake accounts and propaganda,” he said.
But Elswah thinks Twitter still has value, even if it is just as a reflection of what those in charge are thinking.
“It reflects the political messages that countries and groups want to put out into the world,” she said.
And on top of that, she considers social media platforms as tools that can be used to learn how propaganda works.
“We will need to teach the next generations of the world on how to use these platforms, how to detect disinformation, because it’s not just going to be on Twitter, it’s going to be everywhere online.”
According to researchers Al Jazeera spoke to, the lack of freedom of expression, high internet penetration and massive financial resources are the perfect breeding ground for armies of fake accounts and automated Twitter propaganda.
“Manipulation exists, but … the use of Twitter in the region is absolutely different than in other countries, and the way Twitter is being manipulated is absolutely different,” Elswah told Al Jazeera.
“It exists to demobilise the opposition, to target whoever is confronting the government … a tool of coercion.”