I am writing today to make the online-facing sociology community in Canada and the US aware that a serial harasser is using multiple anonymous Twitter accounts to target, harass, and impersonate several Muslim women sociologists. Muslim women graduate students in particular are receiving the brunt of this harassment, including impersonation and the posting of disparaging remarks and outright lies about their personal lives.
You may be aware of other online harassers that have plagued sociologists. Similar to other harassers who have targeted sociologists in the US, this anonymous person claims a victim status, purporting to be harassed, stalked, and marginalized within academic spaces. In doing so, they seek to develop a following and to garner sympathy from others.
These accounts pose as a Muslim woman and actively participate in topical online discourse to reinforce this image; however, the people I have spoken with suspect that this is not the case. Their anonymity, and their habit of switching accounts repeatedly, posting photos and false information, lends little credibility to their persona or their stories of victimhood. On the other side, real people whom I know and trust are being harassed by this person.
It is unbearable to me that Muslim women–mostly graduate students–have to deal with yet another barrier to their full participation in the sociology community. They have to deal with the emotional toll of this harassment, of worrying that their stories will not be believed. They have to wonder what impact this will have on their careers.
Others have also received negative attention from these accounts. Not all of them are Muslim women, but mostly the account targets racialized women faculty and students. It is totally unacceptable.
It is important to me to make a public statement that no one should have to deal with this harassment. It is so easy to make false claims from an anonymous account, and so difficult to set the record straight. I hope that we all can pay attention enough to avoid playing a supporting role to harassment by engaging with these accounts.
We must collectively condemn online harassment in our community and support Muslim women sociologists.