Twitter faces lawsuit alleging complicity in Saudi human rights abuses

One of the suit claims is that Twitter provided confidential user data to Saudi authorities at a markedly higher rate than to other nations, raising suspicions about financial interests and its close connections with Saudi investors.

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Twitter, now referred to as ‘X,’ is at the center of a civil lawsuit in the US, accused of aiding Saudi Arabia in grave human rights violations against its users. The case, brought by Areej al-Sadhan, the sister of a Saudi aid worker who forcibly disappeared and sentenced to 20 years in jail, alleges that Twitter, under the leadership of former CEO Jack Dorsey, knowingly or willfully ignored the Saudi government’s campaign to target critics.

The lawsuit is centered on the infiltration of the California company by three Saudi agents, two posing as Twitter employees in 2014 and 2015. This led to the arrest of Areej al-Sadhan’s brother, Abdulrahman, and the exposure of thousands of anonymous Twitter users, some of whom were later detained and tortured as part of the government’s crackdown on dissent.

The suit also claims that Twitter disclosed confidential user data to Saudi authorities at a significantly higher rate than other countries, raising concerns about financial motivations and close ties to Saudi investors. This legal action follows escalating fears over freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia. Human Rights Watch condemns a Saudi court for sentencing a man to death based on his Twitter and YouTube activity.

Why does it matter?

The allegations in this lawsuit point to severe human rights abuses carried out by the Saudi government against its citizens who exercised their right to freedom of expression on a global social media platform. It also underscores the ethical responsibility of these platforms to safeguard user data and protect individuals from government overreach, especially in countries with a record of human rights violations. If Twitter’s conspiracy is proven, this could have significant implications for user trust and set a precedent for similar cases, like the alleged involvement of Facebook in the genocide in Myanmar, that may prompt a reevaluation of the policies governing such platforms.