>> On the 20th of October this Arabic language website reported that the Saudi crown prince had been forced out of power. A result, it said, of Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance. It was fake news. Muhammad Bin Salman remains in his position, and this, as Reuter's Jack Stubbs has found, is one example of a fierce information war being waged online, after the killing of Khashoggi.
A prominent critic of the Saudi government last seen entering Riyadh's consulate in Istanbul last month.>> Yeah, I think this with this Khashoggi case, and it's not the first time we've seen this. It's the same allegedly in the U.S. election, allegedly around Brexit, and lots of other hot political sensitive political issues.
Where you see people on both sides piling in, and using these developing techniques to manipulate information online. And to try and manipulate the way what people are thinking and feeling, and in some cases, even the way they're acting.>> Automated accounts, known as bots, have flooded social media in recent weeks, many of them promoting messages which support Saudi Arabia.
Intended to cast doubt on allegations, that the kingdom was involved in Khashoggi's death.>> So one of the latest examples of that is this network of fake news websites which we've found. We found at least 53 different websites which purport to be Arabic language news sites, and we can prove that actually they're all interconnected and not independent.
They all trace back to the same group of people or person.>> All but three of the websites have now been taken down. And Twitter says it's recently removed many accounts originating in the Gulf region. But archived copies provide an insight into the network's aims. To undermine the official Saudi version of events, and spread confusion around its government.