Why right wing goes wrong in Twitter war, what it can do instead of blind outrage and hashtags

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First Published 26, Jan 2019, 8:09 PM IST
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right wing wrong Twitter war what to do instead blind outrage hashtags
Highlights

The so-called right wing often does little more than cry foul on Twitter and Facebook, complaining that these social mediums have a leftist bias. That is hardly the smart way of dealing with the alternative media. Follow these four steps instead

Saturday saw the so-called right-wing users of Twitter fuming on the medium for the suspension of the handle, @SquintNeon. This happened to be one of the several anonymous handles whose owners Pratik Sinha of Alt News had exposed to jihadis by sharing their real identities.

However, far from being objects of sympathy, the no-longer-anonymous owners of the handles found to their utter chagrin that Twitter had suspended their accounts! The supporters of these handles, each of which command tens of thousands of followers, could do nothing more than trend #RestoreSquintNeon.

A Twitter user on the wronged side indeed pointed the irony out with a tweet. “It is not just @Twitter but as elections, near we will witness more biased attitude from US-based corporations like @facebook and @WhatsApp All Indian "right-wing" could manage at most is run trends like #RestoreSquintNeon,” wrote Ravi Kant using the handle @LegalKant.

It’s the “power” of the left’s “ecosystem”, exclaimed another user of the medium.

Now, if the left must be countered in the game, is cursing Twitter for being biased enough? Many on the right side curiously believe this keyboard outrage suffices. Unfortunately, it does not.

The right wing must make sure it has done its bit before complaining of foul play by adversaries. What are the safeguards it must employ to prevent suspension of accounts?

Read and abide by the rules

Click on today’s hashtag. In the list of tweets that appears on the next page, click on @SquintNeon. You will be told, “This account has been suspended. Learn more about why Twitter suspends accounts, or return to your timeline.”

Click on the hyperlinked word “learn more”.

You will get the rules that govern Twitter, violating which leads to suspension of the account of the violator. You cannot brazen it out by insisting you will not follow the rules. It is somebody else’s playground you are playing in and, hence, you must play by the rules set by the owner of that ground. In most cases, it will be found that the suspended account used to wantonly indulge in one of the following activities:

(a)   Spamming

(b)   Abusing

While most of the popular handles rarely hurl expletives at ideological rivals, the second activity largely involves unveiled profiling of certain communities. Even when a mainstream journalist finds the Indian or international regime unfair to a community, there is a sophisticated manner in which he or she lodges the protest — a smart style of manoeuvring that social media owners largely haven’t mastered.

Report to Twitter/Facebook

If you are being targeted wrongly on a social medium, each one of these platforms offer a modicum of redress mechanism. Use it to your advantage. Remember that these mediums tend to be pro-complainant more than pro-left or pro-right.

Take screenshots of the offensive post (tweet or Facebook update or comment), copy the link and submit these details to Twitter/Facebook management.

Complain to the police

If the owners of dozen-odd handles now allege that jihadis are issuing life threats to them, the situation begs the question whether any of them has approached the local thana to lodge a first information report (FIR).

To recall a similar instance the left wing had faced, in October 2015, Uttar Pradesh Police were pressured to filed a case against Ritu Rathaur, owner of a popular Twitter handle, for “attempting to disturb communal harmony, by spreading sensational and controversial posts on social media.”

Rathaur had reportedly posted a picture of a sub-inspector’s body and claimed he had been mowed down in Saharanpur by Muslims in a truck carrying beef.

Whatever be the merits of the case, when last heard, the poor lady was still running from pillar to post, seeking justice from the law, claiming her freedom of expression and also insisting her tweet told a true story.

One rarely learns of an instance where a nationalistic user of social media has so successfully hassled a left winger.

Show the FIR to Twitter/Facebook

Once you have ensured you have fulfilled the legal obligation, show the social medium where you are a victim of the assault that you are a responsible citizen. Share on Twitter’s/Facebook’s page for redress of grievances a copy of the FIR. The social medium will thereafter exercise more caution in messing up with you.

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