The internet is swarmed with trolls who only exist to infuriate (read: harass) other social media users, particularly women.
However, some online hooligans in the Middle East are upping their game to violent extents by going after broadminded females, while completely aware that blasphemy laws in their respective countries could lead to punishments as severe as death.
In an online crusade to expose “every Arab atheist child to their parents” and defend their faith against the “Arab gays,” (because no one is entitled to have an opinion, obviously) Twitter trolls are reporting young women who support atheism or LGBT causes to the authorities.
The Daily Beast has highlighted the efforts of Twitter user @old_gaes, who has doxed more than a few pro-LGBT users or ex-Muslims — allegedly including a 16-year-old, @Pharaohoe, in Kuwait.
“This is the end of another atheist and we should continue exposing every Arab atheist child to their parents who do not know of their atheism,” @old_gaes wrote in Arabic above the screenshot of one of her tweets where she had quoted a verse from Quran, but had replaced the word “domain” with a slang for female genitals.
He also asked his followers to report her tweets to the government. On Monday, Dubai’s verified police account asked him to “kindly send the details” about potential blasphemy to a specific email address.
@old_gaes— Dubai Policeشرطة دبي (@DubaiPoliceHQ) June 20, 2016
يرجى منكم إرسال التفاصيل على
@Pharaohoe deleted her account shortly after, but not before tweeting, “they f***ing found me,” “im gonna puke,” and lastly, “i’m deactivating guys.”
“They live in our safety and eat from our God given bounties, but when they disrespect our faith you think they deserve mercy or forgiveness?” @old_gaes gloated in Arabic following the incident, though he too had to deactivate his account late on Monday after users threatened to report a tweet critical of the UAE to Dubai police.
He and his supporters also targeted another female user, @holyvag, posting a screenshot of her tweet that read: “Where is God? Why isn’t he shaking the ground of every person who makes fun of him?” @Old_gaes wrote above, “I’m reporting her and I don’t wanna hear the excuse that she’s too young.”
The women being targeted have no idea how to a put a stop to this. Many already use the social network anonymously, but this doxing has even made them fear for their safety.
“He’s using scare tactics to silence people,” an online user anonymously told The Daily Beast. “This tactic is not new at all. Many Arab atheists, political dissenters, and LGBQT (users) are doxed into silence. That’s why you find many of these accounts are anonymous, so that if they are targeted, their identity won’t be revealed.”
Meanwhile Twitter, which diligently tracks harassment and abusive behavior on the social network and supposedly has a mechanism for reporting accounts that share someone’s personal information without their consent, responded to the deeply disturbing situation by saying “we do not comment on individual accounts, for privacy and security reasons.”
This isn’t the first time social media posts are landing people in trouble. Last year, a Florida man was jailed for posting a negative status about his employer in the UAE while an Australian woman was arrested and later deported over a social media post.