Libyans Using Coded Dating Site Messages To Avoid Government Monitoring

from the can't-stop-technology dept

A few different people have sent over this fascinating story of how Libyans have been using a popular muslim dating site to communicate about the protests in that country. It's been widely covered how various protesters around the middle east have been using tools like Facebook and Twitter to organize and communicate, and governments have been responding to that fact, often shutting off access to those sites, or at least monitoring them very, very closely. In order to avoid that, apparently some of the conversations in Libya have migrated to this dating site. The article at ABC News includes plenty of details about how people are communicating on the site, and it's worth a read. Here's a snippet:
The phrase "May your day be full of Jasmine," for example, is a coded reference to what's been called the Jasmine Revolution sweeping the region, Mahmoudi told ABC News.

He said the response, "And the same to you. I hope you will call me" meant they were ready to begin.

If the undercover "lovers" wrote "I want love," it meant "I want liberty," Mahmoudi said.

They also communicated in code the number of their comrades supporting the revolution. The five Ls in the phrase "I LLLLLove you," for example, meant they had five people with them.
Yet another reminder that no matter how hard governments try to suppress certain forms of communication, people always seek out alternative means.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  • icon
    Sarah Black (profile), Feb 28th, 2011 @ 4:52am

    I guess they moved from adding encrypted messages in digital images (on Flikr & Picasa) to code-words & phrases on dating sites.

    Little Orphan Annie, with her decoder ring, would be proud of these guys!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Planespotter (profile), Feb 28th, 2011 @ 4:53am

    I wonder how long that site will remain accessible?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Feb 28th, 2011 @ 4:56am


    I left a message stating "I want love" which, when decoded (I want liberty) was discovered on this dating site by my wife, became "I want a divorce" rather than the hopeful statement of solidarity I hoped it would be.

    She apparently has contacted some LLLLLawyers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2011 @ 5:37am

    Also the Chinese is using government words for their communication and some idiosyncrasies (e.g. 8x8=64=6/4=Tienanmen Massacre date)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bas Grasmayer (profile), Feb 28th, 2011 @ 6:19am

    Re: Twitter/Facebook revolution

    Does this mean we can now officially brand this uprising as the "internet dating revolution"?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    fogbugzd, Feb 28th, 2011 @ 6:31am

    not convinced

    I don't doubt that revolutionaries have found alternatives to Facebook and twitter. However I am highly dubious when it comes to the messages and their hidden meanings. This sounds like someones fantasy about how a system might work than a practical communication system for the masses.

    If anything it is most likely to describe a private channel rather than a widespread system. I think the significance of twitter and Facebook were that the massive numbers of people could be mobilized quickly and that the protesters themselves were letting the world know what was actually happening on the ground.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ben (profile), Feb 28th, 2011 @ 7:04am

    Way to destroy the revolution ABC

    You just gave the Libyan government the key to decoding their conversations, and have rendered the date site methods pointless

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2011 @ 7:09am

      Re: Way to destroy the revolution ABC

      If Americans were involved, accusations of treason would've already been flying around. But since it is happening in Lybia, everything is A-OK.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ryan Diederich, Mar 5th, 2011 @ 11:19pm


    I get the feeling that the people in power over there dont consider american websites as a place to be searching for ways to find out whats going on with their people. Thats just me though.

    You can always tell how the media folks will see something, and how they can pull something out of nothing. Im not sure how much of this story I can believe, but at least the last part about the numbe of people with them Im sure.

    That one makes sense to me, but the rest of them could just be silly media people thinking what they do.

    It reminds me of the parents guide to internet slang and stuff like that.


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rencontre musulmane, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:14am

    Great story !

    I love this !
    It's a very poetic idea to use a dating site to display politic meaning !
    Clever idea to fight for freedom...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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