This is a story that was too easy to miss in my newsfeed, but as I read it, I felt tremendous fear for women in Afghanistan. What might be an annoying hack or breach here may put their lives in danger there. Read it and think.
Peter Holley reports:
By the time the distraught young woman arrived at the Sunshine Internet Cafe in western Kabul, she was in a state of panic, with tears streaming down her face.
Someone, she claimed, had hacked into her Facebook page and stolen her personal photos. The thief used those images to create a fake profile, one littered with offensive posts boasting of drug use and illicit behavior.
In Afghanistan, this can get a woman killed.
At least three or four times a week, he estimated, young women show up at his Internet cafe desperate for help. Their complaints are always the same: fake Facebook profiles using their photos, hacked personal information, inboxes deluged with pornography, and violent threats from aggressive suitors and alleged militants. Respectable reputations are demolished with a few keystrokes.
Ahmadi said he has reported fake profiles to Facebook on behalf of women more than 50 times, but it rarely matters. He suspects that the threats are so culturally specific — a profile photo showing a woman’s face or a beer Photoshopped into a photo of a female gathering, for example — that they often go unnoticed by Facebook administrators reviewing flagged accounts. What may look like an innocent account in the United States can be full of menacing innuendo to Afghan eyes.
“Most of the time, Facebook is saying, ‘No, you’re wrong, thanks for reporting, but this is not a fake account,'” he said. “I don’t think they understand the culture of Muslim countries.”
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