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PROTEST TINDER

Lebanese protesters are using Instagram to track down their “revolution crushes”

A demonstrator has her face painted in the colours of the Lebanese flag during an anti-government protest in downtown Beirut, Lebanon October 22, 2019. Picture taken October 22, 2019.
REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
A demonstrator has her face painted.
Adam Rasmi
By Adam Rasmi

Reporter

Beirut

Over the past two weeks, huge crowds have turned out across Lebanon to protest government corruption and economic inequality. And with prime minister Saad Hariri resigning on Tuesday, they have some tangible results to show for their effort.

While the issues are serious—the economic divide in Lebanon is stark and government corruption is widespread—the protesters say they can still have some fun.

And so on Oct. 20, after more than a million people descended on downtown Beirut and other cities, the Instagram account @thawracrushes (“revolution crushes”) made its first post: A joke that translates to, “Give me your number so I can wake you tomorrow for the protest.”

The account, to a large degree whimsical, helps protesters find crushes they’ve spotted or met during the demonstrations. The account now has more than 6,800 followers and nearly 1,000 posts.

“My first goal was to break down walls between people. And second, I thought it was just fun…but then it turned viral,” Alaa Khattab, the page’s administrator, told Quartz.

Users send photos of people at the protests to @thawracrushes, with often adorable captions about the person in question. Khattab decides whether to share it publicly. The page’s followers can then tag the individual, should they know who the person is.

There are privacy concerns about publicly identifying people at protests. But for those who prefer to remain anonymous, Khattab said she promptly takes down those posts.

For many Lebanese, the account is one of a number of playful ways to keep up the protest’s momentum. And maybe that will be the account’s ultimate success. “The main goal is the revolution, of course,” Khattab said. “But this doesn’t mean we stop having fun.”

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