A new report looks at the campaign by accounts close to the army waging an information campaign defending King Abdullah and attacking his half brother Prince Hamzah.
Earlier this month, Facebook announced that it had removed a Jordanian disinformation network that was operating in the Kingdom.
Allegedly run by the Jordanian military, a Stanford University report has released details of that campaign and its target audience.
The network, which included 35 Pages, 3 Groups, 89 profiles, and 16 Instagram accounts, mainly posted supportive comments of Jordan’s King Abdullah II and the Jordanian military.
One active page was helpfully named “Ya bey, my heart loves the army.“ One of the largest Pages had more than 300,000 followers, and further three had more than 80,000 followers. Many had no followers.
Many of the pages were started towards the end of 2020, with most of the posts “praising the Jordanian military and the country’s regional and international achievements.”
Following an alleged coup attempt on April 3, 2021, which resulted in the arrest of King Abdullah’s half brother Prince Hamzah and the arrest of 18 other individuals on charges of sedition and incitement resulted in the Facebook groups pushing out coordinated information in support of the ruling monarch.
The military-run network slickly produced videos that claimed that Prince Hamzah, who is now under house arrest, was willing to sell out the Islamic holy sites of Jerusalem in exchange for growing his personal power, Stanford University showed.
King Abdullah is the custodian of the Al-Aqsa complex in Israeli occupied East Jerusalem in a historic arrangement that dates back to 1924.
Following the attempted coup, the Jordanian government alleged that Prince Hamzah was communicating with foreign intelligence agencies, particularly with Israel, to engineer a change in status in the custodianship of the Al-Aqsa complex.
Videos produced by the disinformation led by those close to King Abdullah showed that the “king cares more than Prince Hamzah about Palestine and Jerusalem.”
That framing can be seen in light of how important the issue is to the vast majority of Muslims worldwide and in the Kingdom notably.
A perceived strong stance by King Abdullah towards Palestine and the Al-Aqsa complex confers legitimacy on the ruler while attempting to frame Prince Hamzah as a traitor.
Twitter hashtags like “Alquds_in_exchange_for_the_throne” were used in videos generated by the fake accounts and “portray Prince Hamzah negatively”, said the report adding “this theme was featured multiple times in different videos, at times juxtaposed against King Abdallah’s determination to protect Jerusalem at all costs.”
Yet analysis shows that some of this information took more money and time than it was potentially worth.
One fake account that published pro-King Abdullah videos amassed a partly six likes for the video and less than 500 views.
Stanford University analysts found the attempted dis-information puzzling.
“While their creation is interesting from the standpoint of a domestic influence operation’s attempt to blanket the entire social media ecosystem, it is unclear why there was subsequently such minimal effort to generate engagement with the content,” said the report, given the low-level impact many of the posts had.