McKinsey ‘horrified’ its report on Saudi Arabia’s policies used
The document was a brief overview of social-media usage and meant for internal use, says the firm
New York — McKinsey & Co says it is “horrified” that a report it prepared to measure public perception of Saudi Arabia’s policies may have been used by the kingdom to silence dissidents.
The consulting firm responded on Twitter to a New York Times article that detailed a report in which it identified several people driving conversations on Twitter. Those people were later arrested or had their social-media accounts shut down.
In a nine-page report, the consulting firm found that responses to the country’s economic policies received twice as much coverage on Twitter than in the country’s traditional news media, and that negative sentiment was more common than positive statements on social media.
The New York-based firm said it was not working in tandem with the Saudi government, and when it works with governments, the company “has not and never would engage in any work that seeks to target individuals based on their views,” according to a statement released on Saturday night.
The document was a brief overview of social-media usage and meant for internal use, McKinsey said.
“We are horrified by the possibility, however remote, that it could have been misused in any way,” the statement said. “At this point, we have seen no evidence to suggest that it was misused, but we are urgently investigating how and with whom the document was shared.”
Saudi Arabia has faced intense international criticism since the disappearance earlier this month of Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government who was a contributing writer for the Washington Post.
The kingdom confirmed Saturday that he was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he’d gone to obtain a document he needed to marry his Turkish fiancee. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman initially said that the journalist left unscathed. King Salman, the prince’s father, eventually ordered an internal investigation.