'I won't be silenced': Lebanese journalist hits back at misogynistic 'Saudi-linked' smear campaign

'I won't be silenced': Lebanese journalist hits back at misogynistic 'Saudi-linked' smear campaign
2 min read
09 July, 2020
Ghada Oueiss has said she was targeted for presenting reports critical of powerful Arab royals.
Ghada Oueiss [L] and Ola al-Fares [R] were targeted in the smear campaign [Twitter]

Lebanese Al Jazeera news anchor Ghada Oueiss has said she will not be silenced after becoming the target of an online smear campaign linked to Saudi Arabia.

Last month, Hackers stole private images from Oueiss' phone and shared them on Twitter, leading to a campaign of harassment against the news anchor.

Writing for The Washington Post on Wednesday, Oueiss said the reason she was targeted was due to reports she presented that were critical of powerful Arab princes.

"Although I was the target of this latest assault — no doubt because I regularly present critical reporting about Saudi Arabia and the UAE — the message to journalists across the Middle East is very clear: Don’t criticise the crown princes", Oueiss wrote.

The news anchor did not specify which crown princes, however stated in the article that many of her Twitter trolls had social media timelines "filled with tweets praising Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman".

The online harassment campaign that targeted Oueiss also took aim at fellow Al Jazeera journalist Ola al-Fares, who was accused by Twitter trolls of "providing other services" to secure a successful career.

Oueiss highlighted the mysoginistic nature of the attacks, saying that "the trolls were attacking Ola and I not only as journalists but as women who dared to be critical... For these people, it seemed incomprehensible that a woman could be successful based on her merit or hard work". 

At least 25,000 tweets, retweets, and replies were sent containing hashtags over a 24-hour period, intended to smear the two journalists, according to academic and social media disinformation expert Marc Owen Jones.

Read also: MbS aide Saud Al-Qahtani threatened Jamal Khashoggi's son with unemployment months before journalist's murder

Jones told The New Arab: "The industrial level of the dog piling is quite breathtaking, tens of thousands of retweets and interactions, all perpetrated by a core group of high profile verified influencer accounts."

He highlighted three accounts for allegedly propagating a large proportion of the tweets, including pro-Saudi influencers Abdul Latif Abdullah Alsheikh and Ibrahim Suleiman, who each have hundreds of thousands of followers.

Oueiss has urged Twitter and other social media outlets to  "protect journalists such as myself and ensure that its platform is no longer misused by authoritarian regimes".

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