Libya's 'Love Revolution': Muslim Dating Site Seeds Protest


Libyans inside the country may have uploaded video and pictures to the Internet, but it was Libyan exiles who spread information through social media, according to Wedaddy. That information spread by mainstream media may have helped push Libyan citizens to the street, he said.

"What you have is a very robust community of Libyan exiles who are in Europe and the U.S. They are a buffer layer that is spreading information about Libya," he said.

Libyan Exiles Speak Up Online

The Libyan-born, U.K.-based blogger behind the website (who spoke to on condition of anonymity) said he launched his blog eight days ago, as the protests in Libya began. The 23-year-old blogger said he has dual British and Libyan citizenship and is fluent in both Arabic and English.

"I've been following the news ever since, updating my blog with whatever I can get my hands on," he said.

The Libyan expat said he has an interest in Web technology and Web design and wanted to help spread information for Libyans outside and inside the country.

His site aggregates Libyan radio, video and images uploaded from the region, news reports and social media updates. To help non-Arabic-speakers follow the events, he translates video dialogue, photo captions and other crucial online text.

As Libyans found Facebook blocked inside their country, he posted information about how to bypass online Firewalls.

When they lost access to the Internet altogether, he posted information from the open Internet group Telecomix, which directed Libyans to use dial-up Internet and Google's "speak to tweet" service to communicate.

Given the unrest in his home country, he said he felt compelled to speak up on the Internet for the people in Libya who can't.

"I felt it was an obligation to use myself, to use my skills in a field of Web development and Web design to pass on the messages and inform the world," he said. "I'm trying to blend the best of both worlds -- the Arabic and the English. ... I can hopefully reach both audiences."

When Mahmoudi created his pretend profile on Mawada, he figured 50,000 supporters would be enough to take to the streets. But using various aliases on the dating site, he said he ended up with 171, 323 "admirers" by the time Libya's Internet crashed last Saturday.

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