Two consultants hired by WCD Ministry to regulate online “trolling”. Is this their job?

Online harassment is taking a centre-stage due to Union minister Maneka Gandhi coming out with a hashtag #ImTrolledHelp to help (?) women being harassed online.

If somebody is being harassed online there are many ways to tackle it – if it is Facebook there are enough safeguards to report such harassment to Facebook and if it is Twitter there too exists lot of safeguards – to report abuse and action is taken within maximum of 7 days – both Facebook and Twitter deactivate the accounts and in both Facebook and Twitter there is also a option of blocking the said person.

The only time when some serious help maybe needed is when real crimes happen on social media. A threat to a person in real life counts as a crime. Logically this should extend to social media as well. But here the system fails. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have no mechanisms to take action against people who threaten with a crime. They could suspend the account, but they can do nothing to ensure a crime doesn’t take place. Obviously, they are not expected to do so and here the law enforcement agencies step in. Unfortunately, the local police station also may not be of much help. Cops are often misogynistic, and to add to this, technologically illiterate. Explaining and convincing them about a threat on social media to a woman could be a herculean task.

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THIS is exactly where WCD Ministry should have stepped in. Credible threats of violence, especially against women, need to be addressed as soon as possible. Any ministry is well within its rights to act against a crime or the possibility of occurrence of a crime. Instead, we see the WCD Minister going after something as vague as “trolling” which can cover an innocuous “ROFL” comment, to even the vilest of abuses.

The number of instances where action has been taken on online harassment of women are many – but  what union minister Maneka Gandhi did by introducing #ImTolledHelp is totally unwarranted – there are many issues on which she can concentrate instead of job of regulating online harassment of women .

The motive clearly seems to help her media friends who provoke all Right-Wing people and then cry victim . If Maneka Gandhi was serious, by this time many journalists should have faced the heat for their endless trolling and abusing Smriti Irani and @UnSubtleDesi. Till date no action has been taken against them.

The number of times Smriti Irani has been trolled is endless and till date we have not seen Maneka Gandhi take action on them:

The very fact that the minister’s initiative is welcomed by all journalists means it was done for them and intentions not seem to be genuine .

So I filed an RTI to find out how she proposes to keep a track of complaints and how many ministry officials are deputed for it and if there is a segregation of complaints – like Facebook / Twitter etc – this is the reply given –

RTI reply
RTI reply

Based on the reply I have filed an appeal to know the following facts –

  1. What are the names / address of these 2 consultants ?
  2. What is the basis of selection of these 2 consultants ?
  3. Was there a proper tender process followed to shortlist these consultants .

Once I get a reply will update it – I am sure it will be interesting and have also further filed a RTI to know the following facts –

“Since announcement of the special cell for dealing of online stalking and abuse of women, I wish to know totally how many complaints have been received as on date and I wish to know the breakup of the locations from where complaints were received and breakup of the medium from which it was received: like how many were from Facebook , how many from twitter and if any other online source. Also would like to know how many of these cases have been fit for further action. Also please let me know the actions taken on the cases you found fit for further pursuance.”

Once a reply comes for the subsequent query I have raised, I am sure many questions will be answered, whether #imTrolledHelp is a genuine effort on minister’s part or just an exercise to satisfy her friends in media.

If it is proven that this is just to help her friends in the media,  hope PM takes action against her not only for this nonsense but also on her stand on many other issues like opposing #Jallikattu in the name of animal rights

The sooner the better for country .

(This post was originally published here)

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