Richard Blumenthal
Richard Blumenthal

Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal is probing Saudi Arabia's social media activity in the aftermath of the murder of Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

The New York Times reported October 20 that Saudi officials deployed an online army from a troll farm outside Riyadh to harass critics such as Khashoggi.

Blumenthal also wants to explore possible Saudi assistance to Donald Trump's election campaign.

"President Trump's vigorous defense of the Saudi government following the murder of Jamal Khashoggi raises questions about his ties, financial and otherwise to Saudi Arabia," wrote Blumenthal in his Oct 22 letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. "One such question is to what extent the Saudis provided assistance to the Trump campaign, including previously-reported proposals to manipulate voters through social media and online platforms."

Blumenthal's letter notes that Donald Trump Jr. met in October 2016 with a representative of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the founder of PsyGroup, which offered its services to Trump campaign.

He asked Zuckerberg to report any contacts related to US politics between Psy-Group and the 2016 Trump campaign, Donald Trump, Trump Organization, Jared Kushner, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

He also wants to know if Facebook investigated "fake news," or other fraudulent activities promoting pro-Saudi positions, including with respect to the murder of Khashoggi.

The Democrat also sent letters requesting Saudi-related information to Google, Twitter and Reddit.

Publicis Groupe's Qorvis handles social media activity for Saudi Arabia.