For any Indian citizen with liberal views being trolled online is far from surprising, but when the company CEO Jack Dorsey held a poster calling out to ‘Smash Brahminical Patriarchy’, trolls, abusers and bigwigs flocked to vent ire for targeting a particular community.
This debate reflects the circumstances specific to India that prevail on Twitter, and how regressive voices attack activists especially women.
A closed door meeting was held on the matter with not a detail coming out save for one picture which was approved by Twitter. Even before Twitter could gather its thoughts, the so-called flag bearers of the Brahminical Patriarchy started deliberating on what went on in the meeting, even digging up the history of the people who attended the meeting to attack them. They even compared Jack with the East India Company that came to trade but ended up ruling the country.
Activists who have been trolled online by the brashest voices, always took a stand and abided it, but the microblogging platform conceded defeat to one side. By disassociating itself with the poster, Twitter pulled off a cowardly act.
Twitter spokesperson told this paper, “The purpose of the discussion was to get feedback on how our recent policy and product changes in the areas of safety were impacting users in India.”
Twitter kept iterating that the meeting was not in support of any specific external campaign or cause and disowned a movement. Then, more hypocrisy by Twitter came out with legal head Vijaya Gadde saying “sorry” to the loudest voices.
Attendees have called out Twitter for its pretence and failing to brief its higher officials on caste and poster in itself. They called on twitter to step up and not capitulate to bigotry, disinformation and bullying.
Even Journalist Anna MM Vetticad who posted the picture said, “You are throwing us under the bus to save your skin.” Retorting that with such bigoted behavior Twitter was being “dishonest” to its platform users, journalist Barkha Dutt felt that it was blaming the women who attended the session.
She noted that a Dalit activist spoke of how caste slurs were not part of Twitter’s Report Abuse parameters and that Caste was to India what Race is to America. During the meeting activist Sanghapali Aruna also asked why Twitter did not see caste slurs as abuse following which its legal head Vijaya Gadde burst into tears and apologised to her.
Journalists Ritupurna Chatterjee, Nilanjana S. Roy and Anna Vetticad and Sanghapali released a statement objecting to Twitter’s stand and said, “This is also in sharp contrast to Twitter’s stand in favour of women and marginalised communities in other countries. Twitter’s misrepresentation and half-truths are the only reason why we have felt compelled to take the unusual step of issuing this statement.”
Twitter reassured that the platform was sincere in its effort. Thier spokesperson said, “During the discussion, panelists asked Vijaya if caste was covered by Twitter’s policies. Vijaya indicated that she needed to check on this, and the following information was shared with the panelists via email next day.”
In an email to invitees, they said, “We do currently prohibit abuse based on caste, even though it’s not specifically called out in our hateful conduct policy. Abusing people on the basis of caste would be a type of intra-religious distinction. It would fall under our hateful conduct policies, prohibiting the targeting of people based on their membership in a religious group. However, based on the useful feedback Vijaya received on this trip, she is going to discuss with the team whether this should be called out more explicitly.”
A dose of it’s own medicine
What angers me is lies by Twitter: Vijaya Gadde apologised & cried for being tone deaf on caste bias; in public her apology was the exact opposite. She says photo private. Photo taken and mailed to us by Twitter. Twitter fails to brief Jack, then transfers blame to women invited. SHOCKING! Finally Jack and Vijaya — you got a taste of what many, strong, opinionated women go through every day. Unlike some of us who stand up to bullying, you guys played all sides and were truthful to none. Nice you got a taste of your own meds.