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They’re behind online hate campaigns to intimidate activists, journalists or dissidents. There is no doubt that in some cases, those campaigns have led to murder. There are armies in the Middle East that do not have guns and whose “soldiers” work online only — but that doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous. The term “electronic armies” is commonly used in the Middle East for such forces. “The concept is simple,” as the internet freedom advocates from Access Now explain. “A group of people assume false identities in order to participate in internet forums and social media to send — or suppress — a specific message.” In Western countries, digital campaigners might spread political messaging or pressure for change, Mahmoud Ghazayel, a specialist in online disinformation based in Lebanon, told DW. “But in the Middle East, they can easily get someone killed. Unfortunately, we already have a lot of examples of this,” he said.

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