Monday, November 04, 2019

Twitter faces backlash for allowing 'hate' on its platform in India, users ask it to act against hate, Islamophobia

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Social media giant Twitter is facing a huge backlash in India.

It is because of the company's perceived failure to stop hateful messages and even allowing users who give 'calls for boycott and open discrimination' to remain on Twitter.

The accounts that trended in support of boycott of an entire community [Indian Muslims] were not blocked & even the objectionable trend was not removed, though trends inconvenient for Twitter are removed suddenly.

On the other hand, several accounts were suspended or blocked on flimsy grounds--like posting a phone number seeking help or for seeking blood for a patient. Senior lawyer Sanjay Hedge's account was suspended for reasons best known to Twitter.

But those abusing people freely, issuing threats or posting fake news remain active and there is no one stopping them from carrying on misinformation. Many of them even have 'verified' status. Already, Twitter is facing flak for its strange social media policy.

Bahujan activists have demanded transparency in its verification process. Today, Bhim Army members reached Twitter office to seek clarification over its policies and that why Backward, Tribal and Dalit leaders don't get 'verified'.

The reality is that over a period of two years, Twitter has said that its 'verification' process is on hold. However, people with little or no following and even those who have tweeted fake news repeatedly, keep getting the blue tick (verified), though there is no contact or email on Twitter's website.

No criterion or parameter is known. Mostly, the PR agencies or middle-men are engaged in the job to get people verified. However, allowing hate and fake news is a much more serious issue. Users who have repeatedly shared fake news that had the potential to disrupt communal harmony are not suspended or blocked.

Instead, if a person who is not aware of Twitter's policy that someone's phone number can't be shared, gets suspended even for trying to help someone who needs blood in emergency. Twitter hasn't said it openly and clearly about it and most users aren't aware.

STOP HATE: Citizens' statement against Twitter for failing to stop offensive content, hate

This has been a long-standing problem with Twitter in India. Users who have been sending messages that disrupt social harmony or abuse religious figures or go to the extent of call for complete boycott of an entire community, are not punished.

Isn't it shocking that people who say that Muslims ought to be economically insulated in India--clear incitement (that is against the law of the land too), and violates constitutional provisions, face no action on Twitter.

READ: How Twitter gives free run to fake news, serial hate peddlers on its platform

In the past, such propaganda, demonizing minorities and hate has led to Rwanda genocide. In recent years, we saw killings in Myanmar. Yet, Twitter fails to even act despite hundreds of people reporting these tweets.

Independent fact-checkers have repeatedly exposed the people who are misusing the platform. These tweets make way to people's phones through screenshots, in WhatsApp, and go to rural areas where there is no system to debunk them or find their veracity.

PETITION: Twitter must stop hate, Nazi style propaganda on its platform in India