Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang
Hate Speech Media

The interplay between social media and hate speech in India

Now that Donald Trump’s Facebook, Twitter accounts have been banned after his abusive tweets as his supporters stormed the US Capitol, what is in store for India?

Sabrangindia 16 Jan 2021

Hate speech

Even though most netizens enjoyed and celebrated the move to cut off the account of Donald Trump, the first US President to have been impeached twice, some opine that it was long overdue and should have happened way before than it did.

Some civil rights groups and lawmakers have said that the internet companies have allowed misleading content to proliferate for too long, resulting in dangerous consequences. In India, for years, Facebook and Twitter have largely rebuffed complaints to remove hate speech or other incendiary comments made by public figures and government officials that civil society groups said risked inciting violence. 

The demand now is to urge social media companies to apply their policies evenly, particularly in countries where such platforms dominate communications and also take cognisance of the varying political climate in different countries.

Mishi Choudhary, a technology lawyer and founder of the Software Freedom Law Centre, a digital rights group in India told The Telegraph, “Developments in our countries aren’t addressed seriously. Any takedown of content raises the questions of free expression, but incitement of violence or using a platform for dangerous speech is not a free speech matter but a matter of democracy, law and order.”

It is a known fact that giant technical networks and platforms have been mobilised in a way to enable horrific violence against Muslims and other minorities in India. Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp have been carefully weaponised to perpetuate Hindutva notions and hound dissenters and critics of the Government.

Rohit Chopra’s Twitter account that ran for six years for a satirical tweet-poll about allegations against Amit Shah was suspended in 2020. He wrote, “Curiously, Twitter itself initially sent me an email, in response to a complaint someone had filed about the tweet, communicating its decision that the tweet-poll did not violate Twitter’s rules. I was puzzled when the account was then suspended anyway. Perhaps, Twitter executives were rattled by the barrage of outraged tweets from trolls about the joke.”

He added, “Yet, even granting that Twitter India’s executives were incapable of understanding satire or unable to follow their own principles consistently, the company has allowed, and continues to allow, far worse sentiments to be routinely expressed on what may be termed “Indian Twitter” – as long as these views are generated by those with sympathies for the ideology of Hindutva. During the time that I was on Twitter, for instance, I received several death threats from Hindutva trolls. Twitter did not respond to any complaints about these tweets.”

Besides India, countries like Sri Lanka, Myanmar Ethiopia have also struggled and pleaded for social networking groups to block the spread of hate that eventually provokes violence in their respective counties. David Kaye, a law professor and former United Nations monitor for freedom of expression, has also remarked that political figures in India, the Philippines, Brazil and elsewhere deserve scrutiny for their behaviour online. 

Moving on from Trump’s account suspension, there certainly seems to be some hope in the increasing demand to rein in hate filled content and apply new speech standards in India and elsewhere.  

 

Related:

Facebook, Twitter suspend Trump’s accounts

Trump supporters attempt to take over US Capitol

Facebook protects hate speech by  'regime favourites' of ruling BJP?

Dear Mark Zuckerberg, time to speak up against hate speech on Facebook

The interplay between social media and hate speech in India

Now that Donald Trump’s Facebook, Twitter accounts have been banned after his abusive tweets as his supporters stormed the US Capitol, what is in store for India?

Hate speech

Even though most netizens enjoyed and celebrated the move to cut off the account of Donald Trump, the first US President to have been impeached twice, some opine that it was long overdue and should have happened way before than it did.

Some civil rights groups and lawmakers have said that the internet companies have allowed misleading content to proliferate for too long, resulting in dangerous consequences. In India, for years, Facebook and Twitter have largely rebuffed complaints to remove hate speech or other incendiary comments made by public figures and government officials that civil society groups said risked inciting violence. 

The demand now is to urge social media companies to apply their policies evenly, particularly in countries where such platforms dominate communications and also take cognisance of the varying political climate in different countries.

Mishi Choudhary, a technology lawyer and founder of the Software Freedom Law Centre, a digital rights group in India told The Telegraph, “Developments in our countries aren’t addressed seriously. Any takedown of content raises the questions of free expression, but incitement of violence or using a platform for dangerous speech is not a free speech matter but a matter of democracy, law and order.”

It is a known fact that giant technical networks and platforms have been mobilised in a way to enable horrific violence against Muslims and other minorities in India. Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp have been carefully weaponised to perpetuate Hindutva notions and hound dissenters and critics of the Government.

Rohit Chopra’s Twitter account that ran for six years for a satirical tweet-poll about allegations against Amit Shah was suspended in 2020. He wrote, “Curiously, Twitter itself initially sent me an email, in response to a complaint someone had filed about the tweet, communicating its decision that the tweet-poll did not violate Twitter’s rules. I was puzzled when the account was then suspended anyway. Perhaps, Twitter executives were rattled by the barrage of outraged tweets from trolls about the joke.”

He added, “Yet, even granting that Twitter India’s executives were incapable of understanding satire or unable to follow their own principles consistently, the company has allowed, and continues to allow, far worse sentiments to be routinely expressed on what may be termed “Indian Twitter” – as long as these views are generated by those with sympathies for the ideology of Hindutva. During the time that I was on Twitter, for instance, I received several death threats from Hindutva trolls. Twitter did not respond to any complaints about these tweets.”

Besides India, countries like Sri Lanka, Myanmar Ethiopia have also struggled and pleaded for social networking groups to block the spread of hate that eventually provokes violence in their respective counties. David Kaye, a law professor and former United Nations monitor for freedom of expression, has also remarked that political figures in India, the Philippines, Brazil and elsewhere deserve scrutiny for their behaviour online. 

Moving on from Trump’s account suspension, there certainly seems to be some hope in the increasing demand to rein in hate filled content and apply new speech standards in India and elsewhere.  

 

Related:

Facebook, Twitter suspend Trump’s accounts

Trump supporters attempt to take over US Capitol

Facebook protects hate speech by  'regime favourites' of ruling BJP?

Dear Mark Zuckerberg, time to speak up against hate speech on Facebook

Related Articles

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Theme

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Campaigns

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Videos

Communalism

Hate Speech is rampant while Free speech is criminalised | Teesta Setalvad

Eminent speakers like Justice Anjana Prakash, Saba Naqvi expressed grave concerns over the draconian laws, used to put down the struggles of the labouring masses and the manner in which the law enforcement have been taking down students, academicians, political and human rights activists, artists, Dalits, Muslims and tribal people.

Communalism

Hate Speech is rampant while Free speech is criminalised | Teesta Setalvad

Eminent speakers like Justice Anjana Prakash, Saba Naqvi expressed grave concerns over the draconian laws, used to put down the struggles of the labouring masses and the manner in which the law enforcement have been taking down students, academicians, political and human rights activists, artists, Dalits, Muslims and tribal people.

IN FACT

Analysis

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Archives