Doha files lawsuit against anti-Qatar spam website

Doha files lawsuit against anti-Qatar spam website
Doha has filed a lawsuit against critic QatarExposed, saying the site has launched a defamatory internet and social media campaign.
2 min read
18 March, 2018
Qatar is facing an air, land and sea blockade [Getty]
Qatar has filed a US lawsuit against critic, saying the site has launched an illegal social media and internet campaign to spread false information.

The complaint was filed to the New York state court in Manhattan, Reuters reported. 

Since October, the defendants have operated the QatarExposed website along with Facebook, Twitter and a YouTube page. The site's companion Twitter page features the #SanctionQatar hashtag.

The website's main landing page calls on viewers to support the boycott, which began last June when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and regional power Egypt cut diplomatic relations with the country.

"A dossier on the world's leading state sponsor of extremism. Don't let them get away with it," the site reads.

Doha charges that the defendants, who reportedly identified as John Does 1-10, are using their anonymity to spread false information about the Gulf state. 

Qatar's communications office also said only 5 percent of @QatarExposed's followers are bots, meaning that the information is mostly spread to real people.

@QatarExposed has tweeted 42 times and has more than 6,300 followers. 

“Defendants’ social media posts and attacks do not constitute opinion or protected political speech in its substance, content and purpose,” Qatar's complaint said.

Doha's complaint is seeking unspecified damages.

The US First Amendment's free speech guarantees don't typically apply to private organisations. Social media platforms frequently punish users for violating community guidelines.

However, most legal experts say criticism of government is usually understood as protected speech unless it incites violence. 

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