A few days ago, Anas Qtiesh* wrote of spam bots intentionally targeting the #Syria hashtag with neutral or pro-regime messages. I was then asked to write a piece on the subject for the Guardian‘s Comment is Free.
Today, I find that I’ve been added to a list of “information terrorists” (along with the Guardian’s Brian Whitaker, Anderson Cooper, YouTube and TIME magazine…such good company!)
The user who set up the account has claimed in tweets that foreigners are lying about violence inside Syria, and that Syria is facing an “organized attack” from mass media. I’ve received threats–both obvious and veiled–from what I can only assume to be regime apologists.
But allow me to clarify, nonetheless: I have not specifically spoken in favor of revolution in Syria, nor is that relevant. What I have done, in many cases, is retweeted Syrian friends (whom I know in real life and trust), some of whom are risking their lives to get information out of the country. I have shared videos from Daraa and Homs which show civilian deaths. I have written about government attacks on information technology in various ways.
I love Syria. I’ve visited Syria. I want what is best for Syria and its people. And so I stand in solidarity with my Syrian friends, but I do not publicly profess a specific opinion on the Syrian government or how to change it. I wish for the principles of universal human rights to be applied in Syria, and I trust the Syrian people to fight for that as they see fit.
*full disclosure: he’s my partner