(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
It’s an alert to Modi government. It would face more and more hurdles in getting its message across to the citizens on the social media platform of twitter.
Twitter flagged a tweet by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) IT Cell chief Amit Malviya on Wednesday as “manipulated media”.
Malviya had posted a video which busted the lie of Rahul Gandhi about a policeman swinging his baton at an agitating farmer. Malviya’s video in response clearly showed there was more gap between the policeman and farmer than you have between the wicketkeeper and point fielder in cricket. Look below for yourself: Not even a blind would miss out on Rahul Gandhi’s forgery. An image could be manipulated: Not an unedited video.
But twitter beat even a blind. It came swinging out in response. Not against Rahul Gandhi but against Amit Malviya! It flagged Malviya’s as “manipulated media.”
This morning the Left-Liberal media had its bone between the teeth. Indian Express put it on front page, word-to-word a bigger story than the agitating farmers who have put a siege on the Capital. The newspaper has painted the town red.
Now I would tell you why it’s not just between Malviya and Gandhi or twitter as an arbiter. Why it should concern the Modi government. And why it should concern we the citizens.
Please bear with me a little background.
It’s 1% in control of 99% of humanity
Our world today is split between Left-Liberals and Conservatives. The first one is Joe Biden; the latter Donald Trump. In India’s context, its Congress and BJP. The rise of Conservatives—call them right-wingers if you must—is a phenomenon of the last decade. Citizens have realized that in the name of Liberalism and Globalization, the elite few have sucked the life out of majority of humanity. That 1% of the world has more money, resources and power than the combined rest 99%. That their own land, labour and resources were being usurped by the global elites who held political process, media, academia, movies etc in thrall. Who controlled all the means of information, manipulated it so that it could keep the citizenry in a matrix, uninformed and easily malleable.
But then came Social Media. The elites had thought it was just another means of controlling the narrative. But now the citizens had 140 characters and the button. People began talking. Sharing. Discussing. Lies began to be nailed. Opinions began gathering a mass. The Empire of Lies began crumbling. Citizenry began wresting control of Truth.
They hadn’t thought Brexit was possible. They ordered a referendum, secured in their ivory tower. But the vote went opposite. The media and academia had declared Hillary Clinton a winner even before the 2016 presidential elections in the US were over. Donald Trump it was though who came out beaming. Narendra Modi was called every abuse the mankind had invented. He too came out beaming from ear-to-ear in 2014. The smile became even wider in 2019 polls. People began winning against the Power.
Then 2020 beckoned. Increasingly the signs were that Donald Trump would win again. Now all stops were pulled. Social Media, a front soldier of Left-Liberals, now hit upon an idea. Twitter declared in February that it would have its own fact-finding mechanism to tell the innocent readers who is telling a lie. If being the God of Truth is the name of the Game, and if we are losing this battle of controlling the Truth in our palms, we would create a new arbiter in the game. A new God of Truth, but completely in our control.
So fact-check websites began springing all over the place. They were well-protected by the likes of Twitter. They were the “independent” voices. Nobody knows how these voices passed the credibility test of Twitter and Facebook.
The Double-Standards in Plain View: Samples
Look at Alt News in India. There are specific website and twitter accounts devoted to busting the lies of Alt News. But Alt News always gets a free pass from twitter. Look at Devdutt Pattanaik, the fake mythologist. He uses the vilest of language, words which you won’t use even in the privacy of your toilet. But he too gets a free pass. A Kapil Mishra is hauled over the coals on Delhi riots but a Sonia Gandhi, despite her “aar-paar-ki-ladai” exhortation gets a free pass. As against this is True Indology twitter account. It has suffered more sacks from twitter than India did at the hands of Mahmud of Ghazni.
This brings me to the present. In the run-up to the US presidential elections, Twitter began “censoring” president Donald Trump on his tweets regularly. When Trump warned rioters against looting during BlackLivesMatter days, Twitter called out that he was glorifying violence. The squeeze on Trump was so acute that the president with 80 million followers on twitter, blurted out in anger: “Twitter is targeting the President of the United States, 24/7, while turning their heads to protest organizers who are planning, plotting their next moves daily on this platform.”
Now keep this at the back of your mind as we come to Malviya episode. The same playbook has been applied by twitter in India as it has been doing for last few months in the US. There is an “independent” voice they rely on which decides on “manipulated media”. They have taken on Malviya because he is the bluntest of all voices in the BJP. He is the David who is slaying the Goliath of Left-Liberal lies. He takes them head-on as those who watch his encounters with Rajdeep Sardesai would vouch for. So, take him down first. Draw his teeth out. Do it to all who counter the Left-Liberals narrative strongly. If this method reaches to Narendra Modi himself, so be it. After all, twitter did take on Trump ruthlessly.
So Amit Malviya is only the start. This is going to snowball in coming weeks and months. Modi government could do what Trump had proposed just before the US elections: Since Twitter is acting like an editor on its platform, on what should go and what shouldn’t, it should be brought under the laws of the land. That twitter is thus a media platform subject to regulations, checks and balances, like every other media outlet is.
Again, I predict Amit Malviya would be a norm for other conservative voices on the platform. Unless the government tells them who is the boss here.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Devdutt Pattanaik has again pulled a fast one. His twitter timeline has an image of a sculpture, most likely from Khajuraho, where a kiss is being performed. He followed it with another one such image. He taunts “Hindutva” and he mocks saffron warriors including True Indology.
Pattanaik has done so in response to the Netflix serial “The Suitable Boy” being in crosshairs for showing a kiss inside a temple. His import is Hindu Dharma has always been nonchalant about such activities, that sex was a part of life and openly exhibited in public view. That the Hindu dharma today is hostage to Hindutva extremists. And that the right-wing Hindu governments is fuelling it. He kills the other bird with one stone in dragging saffron warriors and True Indology. Who’s the boss here now?
The misinformation is deliberate. It hides that temples like Khajuraho were built when Buddhism was the flavour. When Hindu dharma was in retreat. So, a show had to be put on devdasis and apsaras. Shringara too which was one of the Navrasas. Such images were put on exteriors of temples so visitors don’t lose sight of their roots. People still kept their padukas outside the temple. Inside was still sacred. Pious and devotional thoughts were still encouraged. Epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata still ran around the four corners.
Temples of past must be seen in their contexts. Cities came around temples and not the other way round. Temples were where artisans, writers, sculptors, poets could earn their living. The donation from the Kings and Rich kept the tradition, the folklore, the civilization alive. Music were performed. Debates happened. People gathered. The heritage received a fresh coat. Temples were more than just Gods.
But they were not Lodhi gardens or venue of sex escapades. They were still essentially abode of Gods. A place where a pure mind and a pure body could meet divinity. You were encouraged to wash yourself clean. Yogis did tapasayas, people took vows, sought forgiveness from the residents of heavens. A Menaka was seen a temptation to break the sadhana of a Vishwamitra.
So it’s facile on Pattanaik’s part to spin a story which could show Hindutva as no different from Crusaders or Jihadis. Hindutva was a word coined by Veer Savarkar. He was an atheist and used it to define all who lived in India. This was to counter the assertion of Muslim fundamentalists of his times. “Hindutva” was a pamphlet published in 1923 when the Khilafat movement was at its peak and had gripped Mahatma Gandhi. Hindutva to him implied Hinduness of its people. It didn’t have religious connotations. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) also doesn’t use it in a theological sense.
Men like Pattanaik and Shashi Tharoor know how to please their masters. The narrative that India is in grip of religious extremism and Narendra Modi’s BJP is fuelling it. That Hindutva is the raging fire which would burn up Muslim homes, rape its women and leave its children destitute. That ultimately it would break up India in dozens.
The stance on “Suitable Boy”, if anything has come late. Netflix has been begging for censure for some years now. It surely is good business for Netflix to stoke controversy and there is no better way than to show Hindu extremism. Everyone watches the show, money keeps raining and those who promote Netflix—Left-Liberal moneybags of course—have their hands full with bounty.
Pattanaiks surely help in confusing Hindus. To sow division in ranks. To earn one more invitation to Indian consulate in Canada (never mind he would never praise Modi government for this show of Liberalism). One more pre-order of a million on next book.
So folks, no kissing in temple for me. No overlooking the agenda. No public relations exercise from Hindus. We would scream and we would exhort for that’s the only way we could throw off the weight of centuries. To strain every sinew of ours, to exert every vocal cord at our command. If we look bad, too bad.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
A report appears in Wall Street Journal (WSJ). It names Ankhi Das, the policy head of Facebook in India as sympathetic to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). She is accused of allowing “hate speech” from the party’s leaders or supporters on the Social Media platform. Unnamed Facebook employees have spilled these beans. The Indian parliamentary IT panel, headed by Congress’ Shashi Tharoor, which also has Trinamool Congress’ (TMC) Mohua Moitra, are straining at the leash. The great idealists that they are–never mind they work for parties which are dictatorial—are sleepless at this assault on their professed principles.
Here, certain things don’t add up. The provocation of this report is recent Bengaluru riots. The implication is that the ugly violence was sparked off because Facebook let go a “hate-speech” against Muslims. The WSJ doesn’t name its sources which it claims are from the Facebook India fold itself. However, it has no qualms in naming and shaming the policy head of the Social Media giant.
It’s now known, through a piece by BJP’s IT cell head Amit Malviya, that if anything, Facebook is teeming with anti-BJP voices. It’s managing director is Ajit Mohan, who was a Planning Commission guy during the UPA days. Sidharth Mazumdar of Facebook’s public policy team, was once Sonia Gandhi’s strategist. Manish Khanduri, who headed news alliances for Facebook, had contested the 2019 general elections on a Congress ticket. But Ankhi Das, the policy head, is a BJP sympathizer, never mind her family is “aligned to the Trinamool Congress.” And if these names don’t ring a bell, this one would do: Manish Tewari, Union I&B minister under UPA, is on the board of Atlantic Council, which handles the job of eliminating political propaganda on Facebook.
It might bore you but a couple of sentences must not miss your attention. In the run-up to 2019 General Elections, Congress had engaged Cambridge Analytica. This company was in the business of weaponizing Facebook data and algorithms to influence elections around the world. Documents were submitted in UK parliament by a whistleblower in 2018 that Cambridge Analytica had worked for Congress party in India. Congress had been caught red-handed.
Doesn’t it beg a question if Facebook is pro-BJP or in fact pro-Congress? Just look at the names who are deleting their Facebook accounts in the last few hours: Nidhi Razdan, Swati Chaturvedi, KC Singh etc. They all are part of Left-Liberals. To me it looks a concerted attack.
Readers, now, let me pose a simple question: If Ankhi Das alone pulls all the strings and is aligned to BJP, how did the Sonia Gandhi go Live on Facebook, where she was on her “aar-ya-paar-ki-ladai” exhortation mode to Muslims, which was followed by Delhi riots killing 59 this February? If Facebook is biased in favour of BJP, how has Asaduddin Owaisi, “the champion of hate-speech” and Hizbul terrorist Burhan Wani could whip up thousands of followers on Facebook?
Who do you think is now the policy manager of Facebook? One who has perhaps used the vilest of language against the BJP and the prime minister Narendra Modi. This man is also abusive to Indian army. Does it look to you that Facebook leans towards BJP or Congress? Now we learn that Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is summoning Facebook officials to probe their role in the Delhi riots. Doesn’t it make you appear that a lion (BJP) is being hunted down by wolves?
And please don’t be fooled that Facebook once deleted accounts of Congress sympathizers. Or that Ankhi Das was a proof Facebook was supporting BJP. This is a common mode how you cover your tracks. Arguments which you could always throw at your investigators. You throw a few useless, like Ankhi Das, under the bus to appear pious. Meanwhile, parley with big matrons in the background.
Readers you would now say how does it concern you? It of course concerns you a hell of a lot. You are using Social Media platforms which has banned a strong anti-Left-Liberal voice like Dr Anand Ranganathan on twitter. All for quoting a verse from Quran. Do we need to remind how many times True Indology has been banned on twitter? Do we need to recount the hate posts which were made against Kamlesh Tewari for mentioning the Prophet Muhammad and nothing happened to them?
All this is to let you know that your Social Media platforms are rigged. Nobody knows how their algorithms work. First came the Indian newspapers with monopoly on news and ideas. Then it was democratized with the onset of internet. Now we have same monopolistic roaches, teeming on the floor, which decide who comes in into the kitchen and who stay out. The powers of this world have always wanted to rule the humanity. Whenever masses are empowered, these monsters strike back.
You and I thus stand no chance. The only hope are those who want truth at all costs. It could be you, me or a few of our brave websites. The ones who also hope that one day Indian state and its brightest would work out new Social Media platforms which we could call our own.
Till then, suffer. But fight.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
If you were a Rajdeep Sardesai or Shekhar Gupta or Barkha Dutt, you would wish for a return of pre-2014 days. You could write or broadcast what you wanted, unchallenged, unquestioned; behemoth of India’s media, sought by global media outlets; prime ministers and presidents, kings and queens, knocking at your door for interviews; film stars lining up as if for auditions. You were firmly in your ivory tower, never seen in grocery shops or bookstores, metros or airports, malls or traffic stops.
Then winds changed. India’s right-wingers took hold in Centre. Websites, such as OpIndia and Swarajyamag among others, began nicking the bubble. The lies were exposed, bigotry was unmasked, anti-Hindu stance was bared in public. History began breaking free from the narrative of glorious Mughals, valiant Tipu Sultan, soothing Amir Khusru and pacifist Ashoka. One began viewing a Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, Audrey Truschke, Sheldon Pollock in the light they deserved. Amartya Sen and Raghuram Rajan lost their halo. The benign mask of neutrality dropped like shame around our film stars and directors. Writers and academicians were revealed to be peddlers. Jurists and legal luminaries were found to be men of straw.
An avalanche was thus set in motion. The ecosystem began drowning in the outrage of the masses. Narendra Modi won over the poor; the intelligent found the counter-narrative on social media. Eco-system upped the game, terming every threat as trolls or bhakts. Internet warriors, on their part, found new converts. Eco-system termed the rivals as fake news peddlers. Lutyens Media began organizing debates and seminars to save their turf. Anyone or anything which didn’t agree with them was “fake news”. The entire game was one of credibility – and they were losing it. The 2019 Elections confirmed their worst fears.
Now a new round of conflict has been set in motion. The eco-system has realized they have been outnumbered. Social Media platforms are rallying such mass to grow in size. The “fake news” narrative hasn’t helped. So they have now launched a new initiative. This initiative doesn’t just have newspapers and news agencies, it has also roped in biggies like the Google, Facebook and Twitter. “Fake News” has been given a new name of “misinformation.” What was seen as “local” divide in Indian context, now has acquired “global” dimension. We might just have stumbled upon the global network which feeds and breeds this “eco-system” to disrupt India.
The Hindu has a front-page anchor today where it has grandiosely announced that it is partnering BBC and other global media outlets to fight the “misinformation” in public domain. That it wants to protect its audience. That BBC set it in motion through a “Trusted News Summit” earlier this year. That those in it together include European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Facebook, Financial Times, Google, AFP, Microsoft, Reuters, Twitter, BBC and of course The Hindu. That,they would alert each other when a “misinformation” is to be fought.
It’s a new challenge to India’s internet warriors. So far, we knew the bias of, say Twitter, which suspended accounts (e.g of True Indology, Sonam Mahajan etc) made twitterati remove tweets (Paresh Rawal) while those with similar offence (Shehla Rashid etc) kept flourishing. Netizens were able to dig up the dirt on Raheel Khursheed, CEO of Twitter (2014-2018), on his pro-Pakistan bias. Parliamentarians were outraged enough to summon twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. The clamour against Twitter’s alleged bias has only grown bigger in our times. Dorsey has admitted his staff could be overwhelmingly Left-leaning.
So how should internet warriors respond to this openly-aligned forces against them? First, it must leverage its numbers. Every sixth of twitter’s worldwide users is from India. Is has grown in leaps and bounds in last two years. This collective might must be leveraged by netizens, hopefully under the benevolent gaze of the government.
The time perhaps has also come for India to come up with their own micro-blogging platform such as one of Sina Weibo which China has. It’s a mix of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. India could thus also protect its own data. The internet giants would have no option but to fall in line.
Importantly, The eco-system is getting ready to bite you—what’s your response?