Since the text shows how social media functionned and how afraid but brave ordinary civilians were, we publish it again.
The tweep from Tripoli survived Gaddafi's crackdown on his own people and is a celebrated blogger by now.
Recently I encountered a guy on twitter. His name: I promised not to tell. He was an IT specialist from Tripoli, Libya. He has a profile on Linkedin that says: 'Seek an IT professional position utilizing my experience: Managing a Microsoft environment, servers & remote sites.' Currently he was working as IT consultant, in Libya. My man from Tripoli looked like any ordinary guy, a bit bald, somewhere in his thirties. He had few connections and was outside my network according to Linkedin. His tweets were about daily life and death in the Libyan capital and beyond.
Soon this unknown guy, who seemed sincere in his messaging, became a looked for informant, a close by insider on the revolution in Gaddafi country. His braveness and his fear expressed in 140 signs talking about his toddler, about shooting in the street, disappearing friends and troubled connection, compelled admiration.
His bio reads: ‘Freedom fighter. My goal is to make a positive difference whenever, wherever and with whoever I can.’
Now he disappeared; all of a sudden no more TripoliTweets ran through my timeline. Maybe the connection broke down…
Then I checked his account. It has been taken over by another. The bio stayed the same. Who the fuck is this? Are they the good guys or the bad ones? How come they just take over the man from Tripoli’s account and his followers without making an announcement? Without explanation, without any reference?
My concern over my new Libyan friend made me google him again. His twitter account connected to linkedin says he did not tweet once (!) though he did the first time I looked him up. The accountrobber on the other hand twittered over 10.000 messages and appears to be followed by Nick Kristof, which is a recommendation in my eyes. But Kristof followed the man from Tripoli as well, maybe he too is conned into following like I am - Just looking at the picture, not at the name attached -
One of the first google hits for the missing Tripoli tweeter came from the US, Kansas. The blog quotes a tweet from the Tripoli freedomtweeter I missed: ‘i just found out that a close friend is with the regime. i was talking freely with him. there is a seizure possibility.’ It was posted March 4, two days ago.
The blogger writes that unconfirmed news is that the tweeter's body is found dead after torturing in a Tripoli hospital. He too wonders who/what the new name on the account is.
Now we are in the dark, about the brave man from Tripoli who has a family to take care of, about other daring reporters from inside Libya. We are in the dark over friends whose existence was unknown to us before the revolution. But with whom we feel connected because they shared their lives, their hopes, fears and thoughts with us. Mental cases like colonel Gaddafi think they can murder these people unpunished and without anyone knowing. We have to prove them wrong! Like my friend Mongi Farhani, filmer from Tunisia, said during diner tonight: ‘Politics of hate don’t work anymore.’
Mongi is right. Muammar Gaddafi will soon find out.
In the meantime I keep looking for my man from Tripoli, hoping the blogger from Kansas is wrong, wishing to see Libyan tweets crawling up my timeline again, soon, very soon.
All names and personal information are deleted from this blog on May 8th 2011
Original post March 6