Inside Tom MacMaster’s Facebook world, where friends and family support his hoax

Tom MacMaster and his new bride, Britta Froelicher

Tom MacMaster and his new bride, Britta Froehlicher

Since Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada and Benjamin Doherty unmasked Tom MacMaster, a married 40-year-old graduate student, as the fraud who pretended to be Amina, the “Gay Girl in Damascus,” MacMaster has been denounced by gay Syrian dissidents for doing untold damage to their struggle. By deceiving journalists and human rights activists around the world, it is possible that MacMaster harmed the entire Syrian opposition, enabling the Assad regime to tar them as Western-influenced charlatans. He also carried on a false online romance with a woman in Canada, duping her into believing she was having a relationship with a Syrian lesbian. Considering MacMaster’s professions of sympathy for the Arab Spring and frustration with “liberal Orientalist” attitudes, it is hard to understand what motivated him. Why did he take his hoax so far when it seemed obvious that it could damage a cause he claimed to care about?

While MacMaster has said he was driven at least in part by vanity, I have gained additional insight into his mentality by accessing his private Facebook page. I was able to view the page because at some point in the past, MacMaster friended me. Since I don’t recall ever meeting MacMaster and therefore didn’t know who he was until two days ago, he must reached out because he liked my work.

At MacMaster’s Facebook page, which he administers under the pseudonym Tomas Mac Maighstir, he maintains only 152 “friends.” Most of them appear to be close friends and family members. Very few of MacMaster’s Facebook connections seem to have much interest in or understanding of the Arab Spring. Indeed, these people appear entirely detached from the complex historical episode MacMaster injected himself into, and are oblivious to whatever damage he caused. Some of them even reassured him that his hoax will eventually lead to profits and plaudits.

nameSince MacMaster was forced to confess to the hoax, he posted his widely disseminated apology statement on his Facebook page, then added a contrite status update: “I am quite possibly a contender for worst person in the world today.” His friends and family members responded with notes of encouragement that revealed a delusional, if not totally cynical, perspective on what he had done. “I’m glad you are finally being recognized for your writing!” wrote someone named Chelsea McKinnon. “I do hope that besides the attention (and scandal) you’ve brought to light on several different political and social issues, that you actually get to profit in some way for your efforts!” A family member named Jenn Miller Macmaster wrote: “You likely inspired compassion for an otherwise oppressed population…Be gentle and compassionate to yourself, Tom:)” Other friends joked about the situation. “This whole incident is starting to make me think that maybe I shouldn’t have given that Nigerian prince all of my bank account information. Nah, I’m sure it’s fine,” wrote a MacMaster pal named Al Freeman.

Only one person in MacMaster’s inner circle criticized his actions. It was someone named Samir Moukaddam. “Do you get the depth of the situation?” Moukaddam asked MacMaster. “I’m not sure…I am afraid you may one day… [J]ust think for example: take people who do not know you personally, then they hear you may want to write a novel — how is that helpful right now?” Besides calling MacMaster selfish and amoral, Moukaddam raises the question of whether the fraudmeister had told his friends and family that he hoped to exploit his hoax to score a lucrative book contract.

Of course, decent people feel inclined to support those they care about during times of distress, and usually do so without reservation. But if MacMaster is experiencing any pain, he brought it upon himself by hatching a deceptive scheme to gain attention and recognition for his writing (as one of his friends acknowledged) that ended up undermining a revolutionary movement already confronted with brutal state repression. MacMaster’s family and friends should have told him the hard truth, but they don’t seem to know what it is. Instead, they impulsively coddled him and praised his actions. For all they seem to know, Syria is a far away place filled with a faceless “oppressed population.” So who are the “liberal Orientalists?” And to what degree did MacMaster share their sensibilities?

Here’s MacMaster’s “worst person” post and the responses (sorry for the poor formatting; I was unable to enlarge the screenshots any further so I had to post the threads in several parts):




MacMaster posts his entire apology from his now inaccessible hoax blog:



11 thoughts on “Inside Tom MacMaster’s Facebook world, where friends and family support his hoax

  1. AdamAW

    Well, he has apologised…. I should think that he is feeling like a bit of an idiot and is only partially reasssured by his friends’ attempts to make light of the whole affair.

  2. chayma100

    Does anyone know if this Amina, the Gay girl Syrian he modelled himself on was a real person?

    If Macmaster did this just for publicity it’s pretty sick. However there may be more here than meets the eye. We shall see.

  3. Robert Stein

    Max, wow, you are at least as big an asshole as this MacMaster guy as you are doing at least as bad as him in violating privacy. I hope he doesn’t see this or have an attorney on retainer yet.

    I used to have a lot of respect for you. Here that sound?

    That’s the very last bit of remaining respect anyone has for YOU going down the toilet.


  4. Cliff

    How the hell is Max on the same playing field as MacMaster??

    Max posted a facebook conversation which was at some point, public.

    You’re just looking for an opportunity to insult Max, superficially. I doubt you ever ‘respected’ him either. Just another ZioBot troll.


  5. chayma100

    @Robert Stein

    LOL 🙂

    Max Blumenthal did not violate privacy. He gave valuable insight into the mind of cheap opportune who endangered a lot of people for selfish reasons. MacMaster used deceptive techniques to gain trust, and then abused that trust. How many Syrians were endangered?

    Max did not “friend” him on Facebook, it was the other way round and as a friend Max had the right to see his private page.

    The question here is it in the public good? I’d say it is, since this MacMaster character is clearly not above using people for his own ends, he needs to be exposed so people can learn what he is, and what makes him tick.

    I think you owe Max an apology for your uncalled for insults and for comparing his motives with those of MacMaster.

    MacMaster guy as you are doing at least as bad as him in violating privacy. I hope he doesn’t see this or have an attorney on retainer yet..

    Is that a veiled threat?

    I mean what is stopping you from sending this to MacMaster…come on get emailing, I hope he does see this 😉

    Max, please make sure you have your own “attorney on retainer ” on standby….:)


  6. Jim Smith

    Wow. What a dickhead. You, I mean. All your whining and complaining makes me feel bad for MacMaster, and makes me hate you more.

    This is a terrible thing to do, and you completely exploited this guy. You should remove this whole story.

  7. anonthropos

    What next, will “Robert Stein” and “Jim Smith” fall in love and start a faux blog entitled: ‘Love in a Time of Sock Puppets: The Story of Two Gay Guys not in Damascus’?

  8. Cliff

    LOL, looks like he’s either sock-puppet-spamming Max’s blog or sending all of his family to post here.

    Max is a journalist with integrity and this MacMaster guy is a dbag.

  9. stevelaudig

    In “face-to-face” life, if someone lies to you, that person could apologize to you in person and you can choose to either accept the tendered apology or reject it. I am of the opinion that an apology can be tendered but, in order to be perfected, it has to be accepted. I may be wrong on this but that’s my thinking. So in “face-to-face” life you are lied to, an apology is tendered and you accept it then the breach has been repaired. If you reject the tendered apology then the breach has not been repaired and still exists. In “facebook-to-facebook” world when you lie to the entire world, who accepts your [tendered] apology? You have lied to millions upon millions of individuals. You [the liar] can tender an apology only. Each person lied to an reject the apology, some can forgive if they wish to. You have no duty to accept the apology and make it a “perfected” apology. Now of course your refusal to accept the tendered apology can be judged as reasonable or unreasonable. Now returning to the liar to the world Tom MacMaster. I think it is reasonable to not accept his apology in light of the immense harm done, the questionable motives behind the lie and many other factors that may come to mind. So I, at this time, can say “I’m thinking about it”. The “it” being accepting the apology. Now it seems a bit unforgivable for Mr. McMaster to go around threatening people while he is trying to apologize at the same time. It seems a bit, how you say, inconsistent with good faith. More later as it occurs. Keep up the good work Max. Pinch a pig’s ear and listen to it squeal.

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