Notes on sockpuppetry and astroturfing

Mischi says in comments,

The fallout from this whole Amina/Paula Brooks mess has really spooked me. I’m starting to wonder how many other individuals on my twitter or facebook feeds might be equally “unreal”.

So, I have to ask: are there any clues or patterns one should be particularly careful to pay attention to?

Also, what are the different kinds of motives that might compel someone to create sock puppets that have such a long and involved online presence (as both “amina” and “paula brooks” seemed to have). Some people here are suggesting they could be motivated by a desire to gather intelligence and/or disrupt activist organizations… but surely there must be other reasons? I mean, “Paula Brooks” wrote about surfing — what was the motive here? I’m just confused, and more than a little bewildered.

Anyway, it would be nice to get more insight into the world of sock puppets (a term which until a week ago I had never heard of, but now can’t stop thinking about!). Again, thanks!

Good questions Mischi – we could talk about that all day.

I think that members of long-standing organizations and communities often have developed the discernment to recognize likely instances of people who are not quite who they say they are, *and* the difficulty and offense of proving that. People who percieve themselves, also, as being in a less powerful situation or in danger have to hone their judgement.

Growing up in the 80s in Texas, I learned how to have good gaydar. People who are online a lot, who live out important parts of their lives socially online, have good sockdar.

Sockpuppets galore

Just as there’s no one motivation for masking or fictionalizing identity, there’s no one tip-off for who is real, and how far they’re trustable.

In most cases, I don’t care — and I don’t have to care — if a person is representing themselves with complete accuracy. Your situation might be different and you need to know you’re not being Facebook-friended by your abusive ex-boyfriend or some weird lying person from your past or an International Woman of Mystery or an FBI agent who just infiltrated your animal rights activist group.

Anonymity and pseudonymity can help people to have a public voice who might otherwise find it difficult to make their thoughts known. Not everyone can be out of the closet! So, while it’s legitimate to worry about who you’re talking to, ask yourself perhaps — does it matter? If it does, how would this conversation change?

If you care a lot about it, you could video chat with them briefly, or verify from someone you both know that there’s been a face to face meeting.

If I want to know, and I care, then I’ll just ask. It’s okay to be rude. If someone’s identity is a bit thin, and it’s reasonable to want to know who you’re speaking with, and they’re real, they should understand why you need to ask. If, on the other hand, they come up with reasons why it would be outrageous to ask, or know — maybe that should be unacceptable to you. If the person keeps missing your meetings and the excuses get more and more strange, that’s another clue!

I think we see here also in this entire fucked up mess that asking your friends for help is a great technique to triangulate on reality! Look at the great stuff in the comments . . . People are still working together to figure out who Graber is, and who he’s fooled, and what damage has been done. Because of that, more people will be protected against him in future. (And maybe he’ll get some kind of of real help, if he’s helpable.)

People have been asking me — what’s a sockpuppet? What’s astroturfing? Astroturfing is “fake grass roots” — many shallow fake identities created to give an illusion of popular support and interest. Astroturfing could be lots of voters from different IP addresses with different logins, gaming a voting system, or many people talking about how great a product is. Because of astroturfing’s volume and potential sophistication, it may be best detected by building good software tools. People who think a lot about botnets and spam-fighting are probably best equipped to talk about astroturfing — though as Mechanical Turk and other tools are used more often for astroturfing, this will get more difficult.

By “sockpuppets” I usually mean a persona of some depth. (Picture a person wearing a sockpuppet and having a conversation with it.) Wikipedia pages are often places where you can easily find a pattern of unsophisticated sockpuppetry. Several new accounts spring up to edit the same article. If they’re all from the same IP address, that’s a dead giveaway.

Sockpuppets are there to talk to each other. Writers make sockpuppet friends or enemies, drama-filled relationships, or conversation partners. Ms.Scribe would make a somewhat obvious sock to accuse herself of not being real. Someone else would then expose the attackers. Ms.Scribe would become more solid and look more more important. I’ve seen Wikipedia edit wars where several people follow a pattern of argument. Alice will propose something outrageous, Bob will come along to disagree by saying something even more outrageous, challenging Alice; Alice refutes Bob and then Bob admits Alice was right after all. They make puppeets to debate with about why the sky is green.

Plain Layne on the other hand looked to me like a “literary experiment” gone wrong over time. There I saw that the specific locality of Layne’s blog and how she described her life led to the other bloggers in her town to expect to run into her. In the earlier days of blogging, people didn’t think that they would be noticed, or found, or develop real life friendships. Some of us might know better these days. MacMaster didn’t.

The story of Victoria Bitter shows some very interesting patterns that remind me more of Paula Brooks and LezGetReal than of Amina’s hoax. Amy Player/Victoria Bitter/Andy Blake shifted identity several times in real life and went through a gender transition. They also defrauded people of money – and somehow, all this tragically led to a triple murder-suicide in May 2011. As the documenters of Victoria Bitter point out, Andy Blake is still around and is still – amazingly quickly after his friends’ deaths – playing out the same patterns of asking for money and engaging with communities that care about LGBT issues and about fiction.

It seems difficult for identity-performing people to resist *engaging with themselves*. I think they also get very tempted to engage directly with people who are beginning to get suspicious about them. It must be like taking a dare, or pushing one’s experiment to its logical extremes. How far can it go? Maybe it’s a power rush, like the feeling of power a fiction writer gets as they move their characters around inside a story. The sense of psychopathy people talk about when they have been involved with sockpuppets may relate to this feeling of power and manipulation.

But I remember the story being more complex as I think of Plain Layne. She would reach a crisis in her life, or would be challenged by a commenter who’d say she couldn’t be who she says. And I’d intervene and comment myself, saying, “But she *could* have had crazy great sex on her first date because…” or “Well, you are all saying she shouldn’t take in her teenage cousin’s baby — but I’d admire her if she did” and then what I predicted *would happen*. Layne’s author would take suggestions or cues from commenters, and would play them out. We all had, now and then, the pleasure of feeling we were right in our advice, or our predictions of how Layne would feel about her choices and why.

With fictional personas of less well established boundaries, I think that kind of thing can have feel like talking with a person who’s schizophrenic and who incorporates anything you might mention into their fantastic ramblings. It feels *off*. There can be a pattern of boundary violation. Some sockpuppet hoaxers, like Bill Graber, seem to have incredibly bad boundaries right from the start. I mean, I don’t have the most fabulous boundaries either, and not a lot of instinct to stay away from drama, or I wouldn’t have kept on poking into this entire mess — but I’m actually nice, and exist, and have a life, and all that.

I’ve been thinking for the past few days about science fiction fandom and its online communities. Fans who write transformative works have been using pseudonyms, and developing chains of trust and reputation based on those pseudonyms, for a long time. In other words, if you make vids about characters who are owned by someone else, and build up your reputation with that as your art, you have good reason to hide your identity, because you don’t want to be sued.

For sockpuppet detection, it’s important to document the process of unravelling a hoax — the red flags, dead ends, and all the threads and evidence. Investigators screengrab and archive chats and photos or copy entire websites, which might turn out to be crucial traces of a sockpuppetry nexus or a Very Complex Internet Drama — before the perpetrator or a community moderator deletes the evidence. They’re archiving events and documenting extended public conversations. That’s a skill and a way of thinking that’s still evolving very quickly.

You can also look at people’s IP addresses, times they come online and go offline, and so on.

If you’ve been in activist groups of any kind it seems fairly usual for someone to point a finger at someone else who is a bit disruptive and accuse them of being an infiltrator. That can be a destructive process in itself, unfortunately.

While there do seem to be various patterns of behavior I think part of the sockdar we have at our disposal – especially as sophisticated readers – is about the use of language, being in the same register of formality, and speaking the same way. There are also differences in what sites a persona joins. A skilled hoaxer can fake those things of course! I’d like to know if other people notice particular things that affect their judgement of a person’s real-life existence or their sincerity?

I’ve got to stop writing for the day [ETA: I wrote this 8 hours ago and thought I posted it, but it was still in draft!] but I’d love to hear what others have to say on this topic. There is plenty to say as well about literary hoaxes (going back to JT Leroy, Nasidjj, Margaret Jones/Peggy Seltzer, and so many others). How do you smell a rat? Have there been situations where you have figured out someone’s real or not real?

[Also ETA to add, I am still researching and thinking about who the hell Bill Graber is, but needed to stop and write this, partly because it is what everyone calling to interview me is asking. Will post tomorrow about Graber and so on. Who the hell is Graber? Is that really his name? Does he have some overall agenda? Is he just independently kind of . . . not sane, having maintained an alternate identity for years and then totally melting down? I don’t buy the theory that he’s a secret agent of a government.. but it’s more plausible that he could be a disrupting agent of conservative/anti-gay organizations.]

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26 Responses to Notes on sockpuppetry and astroturfing

  1. Robin says:

    Liz, William P. Graber and Paula S. Brooks both exist at the Fairborn, Ohio address. He is 55, she is 43. Spokeo shows them both at 1234 Hemlock Dr Fairborn Ohio which is the same address on the lezgetreal domain registration. The home was last sold in 2002 so they have lived there for nine years and both names are legitimate.

    • Gray says:

      You’re aware that Graber used the name and even the driver’s license of his wife, who, according to his own testimony, had no idea what he was doing online? Do you?

      However, this casts a further shadow on the LezGetReal editors. Why didn’t they check those records? They were dealing with a Paula Brooks who allegedly was in her 30s and her dad William “Brooks”, who was about 60. A simple check should have shown them that something doesn’t compute with the ages and the names.

  2. mischi says:

    First: thanks for this incredibly interesting, in-depth analysis of sock puppetry. I’m really in awe of the kind of research involved in tracking down identities — screen grabs, archiving, triangulating information from mutual acquaintances!

    I can see better now how drawing on sock puppets might be tempting for anyone interested in identity performance, though I can also see how blurring boundaries online might correlate to blurring boundaries – often in an inappropriate or even threatening way – in other spaces and interactions (as seemed to have happened at least in Paula Brooks case).

    One thing I’m still struck by though, at least in the Amina case, is that when I first started reading her/his blog I actually thought it was written by a man. Then, when questions started surfacing about the veracity of “Amina’s” identity, I immediately felt again that the hoaxer would turn out to be a guy… which in the end turned out to be true. What bothers me now is: what was it about the authorial voice that made the identity performance “fail” in some ways for me? (After all, we know that, in real life, identity performances do have the potential to fail — and, often, those failures open up the possibility for *either* enabling new kinds of identity formations or reaffirming normative identitarian politics — but can the same thing be said for virtual worlds?)

    So what is it in “Amina’s” writing that felt “male”? Is it possible that there are certain markers of gender privilege that can potentially affect our authorial voice, so that even an online attempt to perform another gendered identity might ultimately come off as clumsy or overwrought or disingenuous? If so, what are those markers or attributes of authorial voicing? (Sorry I know these questions are a little different from what we’ve been discussing until now — but I’ve been thinking about them all week, so thought I should share).

    Anyway, this stuff is fascinating – I’m so glad there’s people like you writing about it!

    P.S. I still think the best comment I saw all week on twitter was ” if @lizhenry suspects you are not real, you probably are not” – robert mackey

  3. Gray says:

    Fighting sockpuppets is necessary, because they distort the discussions, fake consensus, and undermine the necessary trust in a comunity. However, people should be cautious not to start a witch hunt after evidence of fraud shakes them up. I have been subject of an id check at Wikipedia once, in a rather insulting way (not much “in dubio pro reo” there). My sole fault was taking the “wrong” side in an argument where some participants turned out to be socks. There was nothing else connecting me to the fraudsters, not my writing style, not my pattern of contributions, no timetable, nothing. I’m still pissed about the way that was conducted and about the lame apology after it was established that I’m real and not anybody’s puppet. There’s nothing wrong with accountability and checks to validate the id of debaters, but those investigations should be done in a way that shows respect and fairness.

    Another side effect of fraudsters creating mistrust and suspicions. Those damn fakers produce lots of collateral damage in their wake.

  4. sHx says:

    Dear Liz,

    I have been following this story closely and your name keeps popping up as a sock-puppet expert of sorts and you are credited for being among the first to raise questions about Amina’s authenticity. And in this post, you talk about sock-puppetry again.

    Yet, two posts back you say this about another mysterious blogger:

    “In this case, how could I tell from this distance? I hope you can see why my spidey sense went off for Amina. I don’t disbelieve in her becuase she’s a great writer with a sense of drama and rhetoric, or because of her sexual orientation or her activism. For example, I don’t for a second doubt the existence of Riverbend, who blogged so eloquently and for so long from Baghdad and then fled to Syria with her family. But I start to really, really, want some trustable and deep sources for Amina.”

    Do you have any deep and trustworthy sources, other than ‘eloquent writing’, that might point to Riverbend’s existence?

    In the thread, you’ve taken a step back from the certainty expressed in the main post.

    But now that Amina hoax has completely been exposed, are you prepared to express strong doubts on Riverbend’s authenticity?

    • Liz Henry says:

      I would probably have to reassess that, yes. Didn’t Salam Pax vouch for Riverbend‘s authenticity? Maybe he didn’t. I would tend to believe him if he did and knew her in person.

      I would say my emotional investment in believing Riverbend is much greater than the connection I had with GGiD. I read Baghdad Burning over a longer period of time. I did have questions about her identity, and it seems reasonable to ask them again…

      About being a sockpuppet expert, no, I have written a few blog entries, thought about it a fair amount, and given a good conference talk that turned into a longer discussion. For work, I do sometimes have to look at fraud or hoaxes among bloggers, but I think that’s true for all people with a job description like mine — some of my co-workers are probably more sensitive to particular warning signs. So while I have a little expertise, I could say the same of many subjects, as a serious dilettante. That dilettantism is certainly a strength in cross pollinating ideas and perspectives… but we should probably be looking for who the “real” experts are for their opinions.

    • Liz Henry says:

      Hmm, this looks like a good start for actual expertise in sockpuppetry: the Munchausen by Internet entry on Wikipedia. Marc Feldman’s list of patterns is very useful — even if here we aren’t dealing with a person pretending a medical condition, the patterns are very similar!

  5. Mel says:

    If you search municipal court records for Fairborn, OH, you will find William Graber has a history of conviction for domestic violence, assault, stalking, DUI among other things.

  6. Robin says:

    Mel is absolutely correct on Graber’s criminal record.

    http://www.fairbornmunicipalcourt.us/search.php
    Type in Graber, William P.

    1 Concerning: Graber, William P
    D.B.A./A.K.A.:
    Filed: 04-17-2000
    Arr. Agency: SFBN Case #: CRB0000906A
    Docket Entry: Click
    Charge: DISOBEY POLICE
    Case Type: Criminal
    2 Concerning: Graber, William P
    D.B.A./A.K.A.:
    Filed: 04-17-2000
    Arr. Agency: SFBN Case #: CRB0000906B
    Docket Entry: None
    Charge: RESIST ARREST
    Case Type: Criminal
    3 Concerning: Graber, William P
    D.B.A./A.K.A.:
    Filed: 04-17-2000
    Arr. Agency: SFBN Case #: TRC0004786A
    Docket Entry: Click
    Charge: OVI-SERUM .096
    Case Type: Traffic
    4 Concerning: Graber, William P
    D.B.A./A.K.A.:
    Filed: 04-17-2000
    Arr. Agency: SFBN Case #: TRC0004786B
    Docket Entry: None
    Charge: DRIVE/SUSPENDED
    Case Type: Traffic
    5 Concerning: Graber, William P
    D.B.A./A.K.A.:
    Filed: 04-17-2000
    Arr. Agency: FBN Case #: TRC0004786C
    Docket Entry: None
    Charge: RED LIGHT
    Case Type: Traffic
    6 Concerning: Graber, William P
    D.B.A./A.K.A.:
    Filed: 04-17-2000
    Arr. Agency: FBN Case #: TRC0004786D
    Docket Entry: None
    Charge: RT SIDE OF ROAD
    Case Type: Traffic
    7 Concerning: Graber, William P
    D.B.A./A.K.A.:
    Filed: 04-17-2000
    Arr. Agency: FBN Case #: TRC0004786E
    Docket Entry: None
    Charge: SEATBELT-DRIVER
    Case Type: Traffic
    8 Concerning: Graber, William P
    D.B.A./A.K.A.:
    Filed: 01-21-2003
    Arr. Agency: OSP Case #: TRD0300708
    Docket Entry: Click
    Charge: FAIL CONTROL
    Case Type: Traffic
    9 Concerning: Graber, William P
    D.B.A./A.K.A.:
    Filed: 06-04-2004
    Arr. Agency: N/A Case #: CVF0400746
    Docket Entry: Click
    Charge: CONTRACT/NOTE
    Case Type: Civil
    10 Concerning: Graber, William P
    D.B.A./A.K.A.:
    Filed: 07-13-2005
    Arr. Agency: SFBN Case #: CRB0501330A
    Docket Entry: Click
    Charge: DOMESTIC VIOL.
    Case Type: Criminal
    11 Concerning: Graber, William P
    D.B.A./A.K.A.:
    Filed: 07-13-2005
    Arr. Agency: SFBN Case #: CRB0501330B
    Docket Entry: None
    Charge: ASSAULT
    Case Type: Criminal
    12 Concerning: Graber, William P
    D.B.A./A.K.A.:
    Filed: 01-25-2008
    Arr. Agency: N/A Case #: CVF0800170
    Docket Entry: Click
    Charge: CONTRACT/NOTE
    Case Type: Civil
    13 Concerning: Graber, William P
    D.B.A./A.K.A.:
    Filed: 07-28-1997
    Arr. Agency: SFBN Case #: TRC9707713A
    Docket Entry: Click
    Charge: RECKLESS OP
    Case Type: Traffic
    14 Concerning: Graber, William P
    D.B.A./A.K.A.:
    Filed: 07-28-1997
    Arr. Agency: FBN Case #: TRC9707713B
    Docket Entry: None
    Charge: MARKED LANES
    Case Type: Traffic
    ********************
    On another note, Bill’s flirting partner, “Amina” aka Tom MacMaster aka Tomas Mac Maighstir has changed his avatar to a cartoon.

    “On the internet, nobody knows you are a dog”

    • Liz Henry says:

      Fairborn Municipal Court

      Docket entry on criminal case number CRB 0501330A
      Click for case information
      Case Number: CRB 0501330A
      Defendant(s): Graber, William P

      07-13-2005
      o MOTION FOR A TEMPORARY PROTECTION ORDER FILED.ALW
      o REQUEST FOR CRIMINAL STALKING PROTECTION ORDER FILED.ALW

      07-14-2005
      o DEFENDANT APPEARED AS JAIL PERSON FOR VIDEO ARRAIGNMENT.
      o PLED NOT GUILTY BOND SET AT $10,000.00 CASH/ SURETY FOR
      o BOTH CHARGES. JUDGE SUSAN ANDERSON. JP
      o TPO ISSUED
      o TEMPORARY PROTECTION ORDER ISSUED. JUDGE SUSAN ANDERSON.
      o COPY SENT AND FAXED TO FAIRBORN CITY JAIL, COPY SERVED TO
      o TO DEFENDANT AT JAIL, 2 COPIES TO VICTIM ADVOCATE. JP
      o HELD IN JAIL ON BOND
      o COMMITMENT FAXED TO FAIRBORN CITY JAIL AND COPIES SENT TO
      o GREENE COUNTY JAIL. JP

      07-15-2005
      o SERVICE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF TPO SIGNED IN JAIL 7-14-05.
      o FILED INTO COURT 7-15-05.KD
      o TRIAL NOTICE SERVED TO DEFENDANT 7-14-05.KD
      o JAIL BOND POSTED
      o SURETY BOND POSTED.ALW

      07-18-2005
      o CONFIRMATION OF RELEASE BOND POSTED FROM FAIRBORN
      o POLICE DEPARMENT.KMH

      07-26-2005
      o PRAECIPE FILED BY STATE. GT

      07-27-2005
      o ISSUE SUBPOENA FOR TRIAL 08-08-05 @9:45AM. GT

      07-29-2005
      o WITNESS PAULA BROOKS SERVED RESIDENTIALLY THROUGH SHAWN
      o MICHAEL PER DEPUTY BAILIFF KUNZLER. GT

      08-03-2005
      o PRAECIPE FILED BY STATE. GT
      o ISSUE SUBPOENA FOR TRIAL 08-08-05 @9:45AM. GT
      o WITNESS ROY SHOPE SERVED PERSONALLY PER DEPUTY BAILIFF
      o KUNZLER. GT

      08-05-2005
      o APPEARANCE, NOT GUILTY PLEA, PRETRIAL REQUEST, TIME
      o WAIVER, DISCOVERY, MOTION TO CONTINUE FAX FILED BY
      o ATTY PATRICK MULLIGAN.NAC
      o JUDGMENT ENTRY GRANTING DEFT’S MOTION TO CONTINUE 8/8/05
      o TRIAL. RESET. J BARBER

      08-08-2005
      o TRIAL
      o JAIL TRANSPORT

      08-22-2005
      o 8-19-05 SET PT 9-26-05 W/SEC PB/NAC 8-22-05 SENT

      09-26-2005
      o MOTION TO TERMINTE TEMPORARY PROTECTION ORDER FAX FILED
      o BY ATTY PATRICK MULLIGAN.NAC

      09-28-2005
      o JUDGMENT ENTRY. MOTION TO TERMINATE TEMPORARY PROTECTION
      o ORDER DENIED. J BARBER

      10-03-2005
      o MOTION FOR ORAL HEARING FAX FILED BY ATTY PATRICK
      o MULLIGAN.NAC

      11-09-2005
      o JUDGMENT ENTRY DENYING DEFT’S MOTION FOR ORAL HRG TO
      o TERMINATE TEMPORARY PROTECTION ORDER. J BARBER

      12-06-2005
      o REISSUE SUBPOENA FOR TRIAL 12-12-05 @9:00AM. GT

      12-08-2005
      o WITNESS ROY SHOPE SERVED PERSONALLY PER DEPUTY BAILIFF
      o KUNZLER. GT

      12-12-2005
      o TRIAL
      o 9-30-05 SET TRIAL W/SEC. NOTICE MAILED. PB
      o TPO RECALLED FROM FAIRBORN/SAYRE. SH
      o 12-15-05 PROTECTION ORDER RETURNED.ALW
      o TPO CANCELLED
      o ENTRY TERM TPO FILED. JUDGE BARBER. SH
      o PROBATION
      o 2 YEARS
      o COMMUNITY RESTITUTION PROGRAM
      o 20 HOURS

      01-12-2006
      o CASE FINISHED
      o CPL 20HRS CRP 1-12-06 PAB

      02-13-2008
      o PROBATION SUCCESSFULLY TERM
      o TERMINATION ENTRY FILED.CM

      10-29-2008
      o FINES/COSTS WARRANT ISSUED
      o WARRANT ISSUED/SENT TO FAIRBORN POLICE DEPT BOND $559.00

      09-18-2009
      o JUDGMENT ENTRY. DEFENDANT WILL APPLY THE BOND MONEY TO
      o PAY OFF THE FINES AND COSTS.
      o HE WILL HAVE TILL MONDAY, SEPT 21, 2009 TO PAY THIS.BOND
      o IS IN HIS GIRLFRIEND’S NAME. ACTING JUDGE GRAF.JC

    • Gray says:

      I guess nobody’s surprised about domestic violence showing up in that record. After reading the stories about Graber trying to control people, reacting aggressively when folks refused to comply, this had to be expected. Damn, this guy has serious issues! It’s not as if he hasn’t his merits, too, he did some good as an advocate for LGBT issues, but he needs therapy, especially anger management. In this light, it’s probably good that people didn’t meet “Paula’s dad” in person.

  7. robin says:

    Hey, this is @caulkthewagon from Twitter…

    http://www.fairbornmunicipalcourt.us/cgi-bin/mdocket.cgi?pre=CRB&num=0501330&sub=A&type=CR&acc=

    Check it out-
    07-29-2005
    WITNESS PAULA BROOKS SERVED RESIDENTIALLY THROUGH SHAWN
    MICHAEL PER DEPUTY BAILIFF KUNZLER. GT

  8. robin says:

    Whoa. I just searched for Paula Brooks- she also has an extensive record, and supposedly resides at the aforementioned 1234 Hemlock address. So there must be a real Paula Brooks. DOB 5/23/68, but no other identifying info listed in this case.

    http://www.fairbornmunicipalcourt.us/cgi-bin/mcaseno.cgi?pre=CRB&num=0301778&sub=&type=CR&acc=

    (sorry for double posting.)

  9. Robin says:

    Those pictures on myspace don’t look anything like the picture “Paula Brooks” had on her Facebook account. The FB account has been deleted but I recall someone else entirely different.

  10. Robin says:

    http://www.bilerico.com/images/Paulacomment.jpg

    That is the picture “Paula Brooks” used on her Facebook and elsewhere.

  11. Pingback: Bill Graber and Paula Brooks: open questions | Composite

  12. EDB in Beirut says:

    Liz, one of the best things to come out of this MacMasturbate episode is that I discovered your blog. I am grateful for your insights, as the whole Amina saga has thrown many people close to me through a loop and has hopefully made us all more discerning about our online networks. Reading you has also helped defuse some of the paranoia, and I feel that it is both worth maintaining online friendships and activist networks, and that there is a way to avoid being duped by the likes of Tom and Paula Brooks. What’s interesting to me about the Amina episode is that a few of us had our doubts about her and expressed those in private, but that we mostly thought she was exaggerating or that the contrived, incredulous and occasionally cloying sentiments she expressed were prototypical of a certain nostalgia and quest for authenticity that Arabs raised abroad– particularly in the US– often display vis-a-vis the “homeland.” In future, I will be much more likely to dig a little deeper in those instances and to trust my instincts. Thank you.

  13. That is really so informative blog,i like that and i think it increase my knowledge.

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