Just when you thought Facebook groups couldn't get more bizarre (there's a Facebook group for everything these days), "Has anyone seen my husband?" emerges in Egypt to help women catch their allegedly cheating husbands with the support of other women.
The women-only group, created less than a month ago, has amassed over 180,000 members without failing to stir an online debate centered around "destroying marriages and ending relationships."
The idea behind the group is simple: if you suspect your husband is committing infidelity, post a picture of him on the group with a small background description on his work and the area he's in, then sit back and wait. Women who know him will comment with whatever information they have on him — and that's how you know your husband is cheating on you.
Esraa Nossier, one of the group's main founders, said the group was created initially as a sort of modern age khatba, aka someone you go to when you want to "ask around" about someone you just met or someone you're about to seriously commit to.
But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. What started as a group intended to out cheaters quickly spiraled into a space for spreading lies and rumors as well as encouraging harassment in the name of women helping women. Many have spoken out to publicly bash the group, calling the founders and participants nothing but ill-mannered home-wreckers, all while claiming social media is not and never will be the right place to solve these personal and private matters.
The group created so much buzz that Egypt's former mufti released a fatwa against it. "These groups are haram [forbidden in Islam] and play on the capabilities of a nation that doesn't have time for this foolishness," commented Ali Jumaa.
The group's admins shared their thoughts and reasoning on air
Rasha Abdelsalam, who was the group's admin for 24 hours at most, sat with ONDrama to chat about the group further. She claimed the group was initially made for women to "joke" about their husbands (which she says now is also wrong), but never meant to grow and cause harm to real families.
The group automatically started accepting people when the requests reached over 10,000 members, said Rasha, and that's when all hell broke loose. Men started infiltrating the group, screenshotting previous posts and creating fake profiles to spread lies in the comments about knowing certain men.
Abdelsalam confessed she deeply regrets ever being in the group and called for any decent woman to not get herself into such a mess.
Another admin, who started crying on air, said she doesn't regret creating the group that was made to tackle a widespread phenomenon, but never knew it would drift so far from its initial purpose.
A man who's had his picture posted on the group shared his story
Islam Magdi, after seeing his wife's excitement upon discovering the group, gave her permission to post a photo of him just to see what the group making all this buzz is about. So his wife posted his photo with details of two companies he owns ... and she waited. In the comment section, no one replied with anything valuable at first.
However, the next morning, Magdi received over 15 calls from random women he doesn't know. He claimed they got his number by going to a company of his and asking for it. One called to warn him of his picture existing on the group, another flat out questioned him on what it is that he did. Another just wanted to flirt; calling to say he's too cute to be doubted.
A cheater will cheat, regardless of what the consequences are, said Magdi, advising people in serious committed relationships to stay away from the likes of this group that bring nothing but harm.
The noise "Have you seen my husband?" has created begs us to ask questions about the power social media platforms have
Maybe the group completely drifted away from attempting to create an objective space where cheaters and liars are outed. Maybe it became a joke, an idea morally just people are warning about and speaking out against. But one thing it did successfully was shed light on how far social media platforms can be utilized to one's personal advantage, for free. It's brought attention to the power these applications have when mobilized correctly.
Having thousands of people connected on a single platform - they willingly joined - can mean sharing home-cooking recipes, ways to care for curly hair or indoor plants, but it can also mean something a lot more dangerous and profound.
Snooping on your cheating husband, something that once needed a private investigator and lots of money, has now become a lot more efficient and a lot cheaper.
Are there any limitations or laws that come with being active on social? Is 2020 the year internet police becomes a thing? Only time will tell.