During the end of 2016, reports had started to emerge that predominantly Right Wing accounts in India were soon getting suspended after criticising the Aam Aadmi Party.
This was also noted a few months after the aforementioned report, when a popular Right Wing user was suspended allegedly for questioning Kejriwal and anti-nationals. Things became slightly more brazen when it was seen that, a total of 7 ABVP accounts were suspended by Twitter. They were reinstated only after a heavy protest.
A few months down the line, Right Wing accounts were seen experiencing a new form of ‘apartheid’ when twitter started to deverify them citing ‘new guidelines’. One of this new policy’s first victim was Tommy Robinson from England.
Coming back to the present, judging by the events that transpired yesterday, this allegation of, “Twitter India targeting Right Wing accounts” might again start gaining traction.
As noticed by various twitter user, popular Right Wing accounts like @mediacrooks and @SZaidHamid were suspended on Saturday:
Of these two, @mediacrooks was also known for running a popular “Media watchdog” blog. @MediaCrooks is widely considered to be a trendsetter in building the ‘anti main stream media’ narrative. At a time when the Indian ‘right’ was at its nascent stage on Social Media, MediaCrooks fought the lies and propaganda that was continuously and maliciously spewed by the usual suspects through his incisive blogposts with razor sharp wit.
@SZaidHamid was popular parody account which used to crack jokes like this:
It isn’t yet clear as to what, ‘Twitter rules’ these twitter accounts were violating, which ‘warranted’ such a suspension and what exactly prompted the Twitter authorities to take such an extreme step.
Many twitter users were predictably miffed and decided to react:
Why is @mediacrooks suspended? You may agree or disagree with his views, but his was a voice that needed to be heard. @TwitterIndia is getting increasingly intolerant. Why are serial abusers like @mojorojo not suspended?
— Shefali Vaidya (@ShefVaidya) December 30, 2017
Why has @mediacrooks account been suspended?
No regular request for ‘delete the offensive tweet’, (if any) for him?
Why this arbitrary suspension altogether @Twitter?
— Amrita Bhinder (@amritabhinder) December 30, 2017
He has bashed & abused me; I don’t agree with much of his views; but he will ALWAYS be the one who through his unparalleled writings opened my eyes to media’s crooks.
— Anand Ranganathan (@ARanganathan72) December 30, 2017
He may not fit into ur ideology but everyone has right to his opinions.#BringBackMediaCrooks
— Ashima ?? (@AshiQuotes) December 30, 2017
Another handle that got arbitrarily suspended today was @SZaidHamid. A fun parody handle that was never abusive. If ideology is what gets people suspended, don’t call yourself a free platform, Twitter
— Nupur (@UnSubtleDesi) December 30, 2017
— Hitarth (@Hitarth1987) December 30, 2017
Twitter suspended Sir Zaid Hamid Parody account. Humor on social media is left for only left now.
— Squint Neon (@squintneon) December 30, 2017
It doesn’t really take a rocket scientist to figure out what might be going on here. Both accounts that have been suspended today were offensive. But the last time we checked, being offensive was a part of free speech, as argued by the very liberals who seems to celebrate these suspensions today. The very liberals who wanted ‘Bharat tere tukde honge’ to be covered under free speech and protested against the account suspension of a leftist bigoted troll who even celebrated the death of CRPF jawans, are today rejoicing as “abusive Mediacrooks” has been suspended. The ones who proudly stood for free speech absolutism, are today happy that limits have been set. Lines have been drawn. Boundaries declared. Which is, to say the least, amusing.
While it is true that @MediaCrooks was prone to being abusive at times, what one wonders if why the many celebrity handles, political and otherwise, who are regularly abusive have not been suspended yet, if this in fact, is Twitter’s policy? From Sanjay Rajoura, who calls himself a comedian, politicians like Digvijay Singh and Manish Tewari to abusive trolls like Swati Chaturvedi masquerading as journalists have used the choicest abuses on Social Media without facing consequences.
MediaCrooks almost weaponised words in a way very few have managed to do. He weaponised his words to hurt the liberals, the Lutyens elite, the pens for hire, the propagandists masquerading as journalists, and the ones who hid their hypocrisy behind the carefully crafted veil of neutrality. One may agree with him or not. One may like or dislike him. Fact remains, more than the offended right, he tore through the leftist and Islamist charade. As did the @SZaidHamid parody account that got suspended.
Biting sarcasm, razor sharp wit and a penchant for delivering the most brutal truth with a hint of humour is what these two handles stood for. The naked, unadulterated, bitter truth.
One recalls the immortal lines from the movie “A Few Good Men” :
Col Jessep: I’ll answer the question. You want answers?
LTJG Kaffee: I think I’m entitled to them.
Col Jessep: You want answers?!
LTJG Kaffee: I want the truth!
Col Jessep: You can’t handle the truth! You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties.
The liberals of the world don’t want the truth because deep down in places, they don’t talk about the truth at parties. We use words like “honor,” “code,” “loyalty.” We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. They use them as a punch line. And thus, it would bode well if these self proclaimed free speech absolutists drop the charade. Their activism is hollow and self-serving. Perhaps, it would bode well, if their declared their ideological preference, the one that they fight for ever so quietly. Perhaps it’s time they accept what they truly stand for : Convenient speech. Not free speech.