Following the attacks on the Aramco oil facilities in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, Saudis who were near the facilities posted images and videos of the aftermath, including images of missile fragments found nearby and of the large fires that had broken out.

These images were posted on social media and were widely disseminated before Saudi state media and security authorities could control the story, thereby placing the Saudi authorities in an embarrassing position.

The circulation of these posts evoked criticism from other social media users, who claimed that they exaggerated and distorted the events and jeopardized state security. Criticism was also voiced by writers in the Saudi press, who called on the security apparatuses to educate the public about responsible use of social media and to punish those who disseminated harmful information.

Posts published by Saudi Twitter users on the day of the attack showed remnants of “cruise missiles that were fired at the Abqaiq oil [facility],” when official Saudi media was still referring to the incident as a drone attack.

Tweet by user OTB shows remnants of cruise missiles (twitter.com/fnaot, Sept. 14, 2019).

In response to the videos and images, posters were circulated on official Saudi social media accounts calling on the public to refrain from publishing sensitive information that “harms the homeland and serves the enemy.” Some of the posters also pointed out that doing so was a criminal offense.

The full story is available at the MEMRI website.

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