Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dating Sites Are the New Hotspot for Libyan Protest [Internet]

Click here to read Dating Sites Are the New Hotspot for Libyan Protest

On a Muslim dating site called Mawada, there's a man with a profile titled "Where Is Miriam?" He will frequently receive messages from other muslim women which read something along the lines of "may your day be filled with Jasmine." He's also quite popular with the ladies, amassing over 171,000 admirers. But neither "Where Is Miriam," nor his admirers are interested in love. They're interested in toppling the Libyan regime led by Muammar Gaddafi.

According to ABC News, the dating site had been used over the past couple of weeks as a clandestine location to exchange information and words of encouragement regarding the citizen uprisings in Libya. Many of the 171,000 admirers who follow "Where Is Miriam?" (aka Libyan opposition leader Omar Shibliy Mahmoudi) on Mawada aren't even women. But because the dating site forbids contact between men, male dissidents had to forge female identities such as "Girl of the Desert" and "Sweet Butterfly."

Messages posted to Mahmoudi's page, like the one above, were essentially written in code to further conceal their actions (the Jasmine mention is referring to the Jasmine revolution.) When referring to liberty, users would often use the word love, and when they wanted to meet up, they would express a desire to call one another. Using these methods, they were not only able to contact Mahmoudi, but each other as well, helping to spur on the Libyan revolt. [ABC News via Discover]

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