Kaam Ki Baat: Should Tweets decide what is important for India
Twitter has become a very resourceful place for news channels to pick news. Twitter trends dominate the inside discussions in newsrooms. While some hashtags trends before the news programs, some are promoted in the program itself. Since the inception of Twitter, we have seen top Twitter trends becoming a serious topic of debate for the news channels.
Look at these hashtags which trended on Twitter for several days and question your memory if these hashtags made big news or not. #JusticeForSushant, #AntiCAAProtest, #ShaheenBagh, #JNUViolence, #TablighiJamaat, #Hathras, #Article370, #IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainstPropaganda, #CoronavirusLockdown #Kathua #RamMandir #BabriMasjidCase.
Indian Twitter is the gift that keeps delivering content for us. Today, the fact that we are talking about Twitter in Kaam Ki Baat, seals the fact that something important must have happened. Yes, we are talking about the recent Twitter war between International celebrities and Indian users.
What started as a three-way tussle between Twitter, the outraged users and the Indian government morphed into a full-blown international uproar. Rihanna’s tweet looked innocuous which merely asked that why people were not talking about the protests or why ridding people of the internet is not a talking point. Soon after her tweet, India’s Twitterverse went ablaze.
Environment activist Greta Thunberg also shared her thoughts on the going-ons. She also shared an informational document, which declared that the RSS-backed BJP government is a “fascist ruling party.” She soon deleted her tweet which contained the toolkit and posted a new toolkit saying that the earlier one was outdated and this one is updated.
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Later other international celebs like Lebanese model Mia Khalifa, Kamala Harris’s niece “Meena Harris, Amanda Cerny, Lily Singh, Hasan Minhaj and many others tweeted in the support of Rihanna.
The Ministry of External Affairs didn’t take this well and issued a statement saying that some fringe elements are trying to sabotage the ongoing protests. Later, several politicians, cinema celebrities, and sports personalities jumped to Twitter to put very balanced tweets that had a similar kind of message with hashtags #IndiaAgainstpropagana and #Indiatogether that, international celebrities won’t break the nation apart.
Later Twitter went abuzz with tweets that it is an international conspiracy to defame India and Rihanna, Greta or Mia are a part of it. Several news channels ditched the real reason why those farmers were protesting and debated Rihanna’s tweet in their prime-time slot. Some said that it is not a place for international celebrities to speak in the internal matter of the country. But they forget that we had tweeted when #BlackLivesMatter protest was going on or when Capitol Hill was stormed by pro-Trump supporters. One tweet which said, why people are not talking about it, suddenly became the reason for news-hour debates where many were talking about it and millions were watching it.
Hypocritical patriotism of celebs
The events also gave us an idea that the self-serving and hypocritical patriotism of Indian celebrities very much exists, even in the age of Twitter. Tweets of several Indian celebrities suggested that India’s sovereignty was being compromised with just one or two tweets.
A little background on Twitter use
However, to understand the role of Twitter, we have to divert a little from the issue. The controversy started when Twitter suspended hundreds of accounts that were perceived as sympathetic to the protesting farmers against the news agriculture laws. As per the reports, accounts of Kisan Ekta Morcha, Tractor2twitr, jatt_junction, Manik Goyal, the Caravan, and several others were suspended after the Indian government sent a legal notice to Twitter. It was reported that the social media platform had to block those accounts of farmers’ organizations, media groups, and activists that were tweeting about the farmers’ demonstrations after the Government asked them to block more than 250 accounts or tweets that were using the hashtag #ModiPlanninFarmerGenocide and making provocative, intimidatory, and fake tweets on January 30.
But twitter faced backlash for suspending the accounts when people called the social media platform biased and their action violated freedom of expression. Twitter revived the suspended accounts following the pushback from international and national community. Twitter tried to give an unconvincing explanation for their initial actions portraying itself as the valiant defenders of free speech.
Notice to Twitter
The Central government then sent a notice to Twitter stating that despite the IT Ministry directive to block those accounts and warning of consequences if not complying under section 69A of the act, the platform has reinstated those accounts.
The 18-page notice from the government stated that the disproportionality and impracticability of the said measure cannot be decided by Twitter, which is an intermediary bound.
Misuse of Twitter
Twitter has become a haven for bots and trolls that are always ready to counter any development or update. They work relentlessly in attacking an individual’s, brands, institution’s, or a country’s image and swing into any direction they are paid around. Some individual attacks on Twitter range from harassment to death threats. Recently, a brand to take down its advertisement as people on Twitter called it a promotion of Love Jihad. A young actress was trolled for quitting the Bollywood industry.
Why Twitter has become so relevant in the news and politics sphere
There is no doubt that Twitter is amongst the most popular social media platform for news seekers and political-enthusiasts people. There is a reason behind this. It makes everyone a consumer and a publisher at a global level, nearly hindered, and puts out trending topics like no other platform. This gives the platform an advantage of making any content viral in minutes and makes it vulnerable to be misunderstood and abused.
Twitter usually attracts politicians, spokespersons of big political parties, journalists, and lots of media houses as their content creators. A voyeuristic follower-led and leader-led community makes it easy to report a particular piece of content that doesn’t; suits them or their ideologies. Hence, it is more to do with personal preference rather than policies of the Twitter. When the algorithm of Twitter bans these content creators or content pieces as a precaution, it becomes controversial. It is unfortunate that a place that was built for people to exercise their right to freedom of expression, exposes them to the wrath of people who do not like what they said.
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