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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 05:47 PM
Original message
Lesbian Syrian blog a hoax written by a man
Source: Associated Press/Guardian

Lesbian Syrian blog a hoax written by a man
Tom MacMaster is the name attributed to new entry in a blog purportedly by a lesbian Syrian-American living in Damascus
Associated press
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 12 June 2011 23.11 BST

A new entry in a blog purportedly by a lesbian Syrian-American living in Damascus asserted that the entire saga was a hoax, supposedly written by a man.

The post, which came days after an entry saying the blogger had been arrested, was signed by "Tom MacMaster" in Istanbul, Turkey.

In it, the author says the narrative was fictional but insists it "created an important voice for issues I feel strongly about."

~snip~
On Tuesday, a blog post at the same site supposedly written by the woman's cousin said she had been detained in Damascus after weeks on the run. The story unravelled quickly after a woman in Britain said the photos on the Facebook account of the blogger known as Amina Arraf were actually of her. Her disappearance was reported and confirmed by an activist in Damascus, but reporters in Virginia then could find no trace of Arraf or her family.



Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/12/lesbian-syr...
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Kaleva Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 05:50 PM
Response to Original message
1. A man posing as a lesbian on the internet. It's been done to death.
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digitaln3rd Donating Member (533 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 06:26 PM
Response to Reply #1
12. I feel as if I've gone back in time
About 20 years and landed in an AOL chatroom.
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alphafemale Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 05:52 PM
Response to Original message
2. sigh...if you can't trust the internet...who can you trust.
So that entire abduction at gunpoint thing...is an entire work of fiction?

Oh fer fucks sake.
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dipsydoodle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 06:00 PM
Response to Original message
3. Oh
:rofl:
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 06:01 PM
Response to Original message
4. Weird that The Guardian believes that the blog was written by a man
Based only on the fact that there is a post on the blog that claims to be from a man.

In theory, who is to say that the post isn't just more BS?

Did The Guardian actually interview anyone to confirm this story?

Or are they, once again, only going off of what they are reading on a blog post of dubious authenticity?

I would note that they published the following news story less than a week ago:

Gay Girl in Damascus blogger joins ranks of Syria's detained

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/07/damascus-bl...

Does anybody in the mainstream media do journalism anymore?
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dipsydoodle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 06:08 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. It had already been established
it was a stolen identity.
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 06:11 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. I know - I posted about it already
I just see no reason to accept that the person who made the post on the blog is telling the truth about his identity or the fact that he was the one posting all the messages.

Others who have looked into this in far greater detail have indicated that it may have been a husband-and-wife team, with the wife doing most of the blogging.

In any case, there is no actual journalism in this article - nor was there when The Guardian published an article claiming this non-existent woman was kidnapped.
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reACTIONary Donating Member (257 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 06:10 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. purportedly... asserted... supposedly...
Edited on Sun Jun-12-11 06:11 PM by reACTIONary
"A new entry in a blog purportedly by a lesbian Syrian-American living in Damascus asserted that the entire saga was a hoax, supposedly written by a man."

Looks like their ass is fully covered to me.
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 06:12 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. Someone should tell their headline writer
"Lesbian Syrian blog a hoax written by a man"

No ass-covering to be found there.
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reACTIONary Donating Member (257 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 06:13 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Someone should (nt)
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 06:35 PM
Response to Reply #6
13. Syrian lesbian blogger is revealed conclusively to be a married man
I guess that takes care of the ass-covering.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/13/syrian-lesb...

I'm glad they mention the "army of bloggers" - because without they work they did on this story, The Guardian would probably still be trying to set up Skype conversations with this non-existent woman.
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 06:51 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. (a) the OP article is by Associated Press, not The Guardian
(b) It's The Guardian who has actually managed to get the emails from his wife. I'd say they have been doing proper journalism.
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 06:53 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. That is true - but they still ran it on their website
The emails from the wife could be fake. If you read the article they admit to have been duped before in this regard.

There are a handful of outstanding, hard-working people who uncovered the truth about this story.

The Guardian credits none of them but compiles much of their journalistic efforts with only a slight nod to an "army of bloggers" (with no names mentioned).
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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 07:07 PM
Response to Reply #15
18. Who are these 'outstanding, hard-working people who uncovered the truth'?
I'd be curious to see how journalistic they are!
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 07:18 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. Ali Abunimah and Benjamin Doherty were way out in front of the story
Several others followed their lead but I think the two of them ought to get most of the credit.
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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 07:20 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. Credit for what? Have you got a link to their journalistic efforts on this?
I'm just curious to see what makes them different from the journalism in the Guardian that you've criticised in this thread...

btw, isn't Ali Abunimah the guy who runs Electronic Intifada?
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 07:23 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. Check out their website
Electronic Intifada has been doing real journalism on this story - not sure if it is okay to link to their website, but you can take a look there for all the details.
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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 07:28 PM
Response to Reply #23
25. I'm not going to go searching for something yr telling me to read...
Edited on Sun Jun-12-11 07:39 PM by Violet_Crumble
I've got no idea where to start or what I'd be reading is what yr talking about. I'm sure you can post articles directly here at DU and point out the difference in journalism between them and The Guardian. Please post what yr referring to, so we can all see what 'real journalism' supposedly is...

on edit: I just noticed another poster had already told you that the article wasn't written by journalists at the Guardian, but is from AP. Knowing that, why would you then tell me that The Guardian didn't give Electronic Intifada credit in the article?
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 07:42 PM
Response to Reply #25
28. There would be no searching necessary - it's on their front page
Edited on Sun Jun-12-11 07:46 PM by oberliner
It is the top entry under "Latest Blog Posts".

I am not sure if I can link to or post excerpts from that site so I would urge you to check out the post if you are interested.

They compiled bits of information that suggested a relationship between "Amina" and Tom MacMaster/Britta Froelicher, such as:

Aminas home address is the same as MacMasters address

Photograph of Assad billboard in Syria (The same photo but with a tighter crop appears on Britta Froelichers Picasa account)

Wikipedia edits from Edinburgh IP addresses (which matched that of messages purporting to be from Amina)

They apparently then initiated an email correspondence with the person that now appears to be at least one of the people behind the blog.

I believe that Paula Brooks from the "LezGetReal" website also did some of the legwork on the IP addresses and had an ongoing correspondence with one of the hoaxsters.

NPR journalist, Andy Cardin, was also involved in raising suspicious and gathering information about some of these inconsistencies.
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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 07:47 PM
Response to Reply #28
30. Why can't you link to Electronic Intifada?
If yr not allowed to link to it, don't try to sell it as a credible source.

Sorry, but based on what you've posted, the journalism from the AP article that was carried by The Guardian is fine.

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Imajika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 06:11 PM
Response to Reply #4
7. It was a hoax...
"Jelena Lecic, the woman whose photos were linked to Arraf's Facebook profile, said the London woman first learned her likeness was being used when it was linked to article about Arraf in the Guardian newspaper, her spokesman has said."

The pictures of the supposed lesbian Syrian girl were of someone else.

The guy who wrote it has admitted it was all a hoax but that he had "created an important voice for issues I feel strongly about."

What's it going to take to convince you? Do you also still believe Weiner's original defense that someone hacked his twitter, even though he's since admitted to lying?

The lesbian Syrian girl thing was a compelling fiction, but that's all it was.

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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 06:16 PM
Response to Reply #7
11. How do you know who made that post?
How do you know that person is who he says he is?

How do you know that he is the person who wrote all the blog entries?

Maybe he just made up a name. Maybe he is covering for someone else. Maybe he wrote the entries with his wife. Maybe his wife actually wrote all the entries herself.

It is quite obvious that this was a hoax and there is no "Gay Girl In Damascus" - but I have a problem with the headline from The Guardian here which is claiming as fact that the post was written by a man.

There is zero reporting in this article.

The Guardian, which itself ran a piece about the kidnapping of this non-existent person, owes it to it's readers to do some actual journalism.

Find out for sure who is behind the blog before posting an article with a headline asserting as fact that it was a man.
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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 07:03 PM
Response to Reply #11
17. Why don't you email the Guardian and ask all those questions?
Also, why don't you read a bit more than just the headline and read the article itself?
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 07:21 PM
Response to Reply #17
22. They are rhetorical questions
Edited on Sun Jun-12-11 07:21 PM by oberliner
The point is that the folks at Electronic Intifada did all of the work in uncovering what was going on here, and The Guardian did not give them so much as a mention.
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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 07:27 PM
Response to Reply #22
24. The point you say yr trying to make has nothing to do with those 'rhetorical questions'...
Not sure why you think the Guardian has to give Electronic Intifada any sort of mention. They don't. Also, isn't EI a rather questionable source? After all, it's banned in one of the forums here at DU...
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 07:30 PM
Response to Reply #24
26. The point is that it is irresponsible to run that headline
Without at least talking to the person, seeing some evidence that he did in fact make the posts.

As I mentioned, other sources who have researched it more thoroughly have suggested that his wife may have made the majority of the posts.
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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 07:35 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. That's another point, one which is quite hyperbolic, imo...
Irresponsible? Hardly. I'd hope most people read beyond the headline anyway. Also, how do you know what the journalist did or didn't do?

Sorry, but why should I take yr word for it that other sources have researched more thoroughly, when one of those sources is banned from being posted in another fourm at DU? It'd be different if you pointed to specific examples of this journalistic difference, but you haven't done so..
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 07:45 PM
Response to Reply #27
29. OK
That's a fair criticism.

It just seems like from what I've read that there have been some bloggers and non-MSM journalists who have done a lot of work on this story and are not getting any credit.

It also seems silly of The Guardian to run the original headline based merely off of another message posted on the blog that may or may not be authentic and accurate.

Those were my two issues.

Again, I would urge you to check out EI for more details. +972 was also on the case as was LezGetReal and Andy Cardin of NPR. Also Liz Henry raised some initial doubts that led to much of the investigation.

In another post I summarized some of the efforts made by some of these folks to get to the bottom of this hoax.
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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 07:51 PM
Response to Reply #29
31. I just think yr criticisms of The Guardlian are unfair...
There's nothing wrong with the article that appeared in The Guardian, and even if they'd written it, there's no obligation or need for them to credit any blogger.

I don't read EI. As I've mentioned previously, it's been banned as a source in another forum at DU, which means it must be a stinky source. The story in The Guardian said it was a hoax and I've got no interest in delving into great massive detail, so I won't be reading anything at EI about it, sorry...
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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 07:11 PM
Response to Reply #7
19. This is the first I'd heard of the blog, but It was definately a hoax...
I'm not sure why anyone would still be trying to argue that it might not be a hoax.
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Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 06:55 PM
Response to Original message
16. NPR article
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 10:19 PM
Response to Reply #16
32. Thanks for posting the NPR article. Really helpful. n/t
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 10:50 PM
Response to Reply #16
33. Now that is some good reporting
Andy Cardin did a nice job of following some leads on this story.

And credit given where credit is due to the other bloggers and journalists who sniffed out the truth (especially the folks at Electronic Intifada).

Thanks for posting!
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Hissyspit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 11:37 PM
Response to Original message
34. Syria Gay Girl in Damascus Blog a Hoax by US Man
Source: BBC

Syria Gay Girl in Damascus blog a hoax by US man

An online campaign was launched to secure "Amina's" release


12 June 2011 Last updated at 23:58 ET

A blog purportedly written by a gay woman in Syria, which described life in Damascas amid the current political unrest, has been revealed to be a hoax.

A Girl Gay in Damascus gained a worldwide readership and was closely followed by news organisations.

But the true author has now come forward - Tom MacMaster, an American man studying in Scotland.

Many Syrian activists have reacted angrily, accusing him of trivialising or even harming their cause.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13744980?ut...
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FLAprogressive Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 11:37 PM
Response to Reply #34
35. epic troll
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