Social media platforms like Twitter are rife with all kinds of user information, some of which is shared publicly, and some of which is private. If private, then accessing it would be pretty hard unless you’re a Twitter employee, which is what the Saudi Arabia government was counting on when they recruited a couple of Twitter employees to spy on their critics.
According to a complaint that was recently unsealed in the US District Court in San Francisco, it was revealed that the Saudi government had apparently recruited a couple of employees at Twitter to look into the data belonging to thousands of Twitter accounts, which were believed to be critics of the current government. This included details like email addresses, IP address, date of birth, and so on.
The employees who were recruited were also said to have been rewarded for their efforts in the form of designer watches and tens of thousands of dollars which were banked into secret bank accounts.
It has also been reported that the employees involved had no need to access Twitter users’ private information as part of their job scope to begin with. Those employees have since been charged as acting as agents of Saudi Arabia without registering with the US government.
In a statement made by Twitter, the company said, “We understand the incredible risks faced by many who use Twitter to share their perspectives with the world and to hold those in power accountable. We have tools in place to protect their privacy and their ability to do their vital work.”