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BW Businessworld

Trolls One: Rajdeep Zero

None of what goes on is what Twitter could have hoped for from one of the companies biggest potential markets, but more than that, perhaps few could have believed social media would reveal such an ugly side of humanity

Photo Credit : Shutterstock

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Ever since the Modi government took over, Twitter has gradually become a minefield. Any statement that even indirectly hints at not being in enthusiastic agreement with the Bharatiya Janata Party, instantly attracts trolls, like flies to honey. Swooping down on the poster, an angry swarm of ‘bhakts’ or devotees, counter whatever appeals to them not. And they don’t leave it at that.

Within minutes, the poster will find his or her timeline filled with death threats, promises of unspeakable acts of violence, and intense abuse. Nobody gets a free pass particularly not members of the press.

It was one such member, Rajdeep Sardesai, who after a particularly haranguing week of viciousness on Twitter, eventually lost his cool and disabled his account until further notice.

Following a volley of comments regarding the AgustaWestland deal, four offensive private messages were apparently sent out from Sardesai’s account. These could easily have been doctored, or indeed, his account could have been hacked. More hardened Twitter users refuse to take the bait, but unfortunately, Sardesai blinked first.

“Two days ago, I temporarily disabled my Twitter account. It was a decision taken because, frankly, I had reached breaking point with social media,” he said in a Facebook post. “To be subject to a concerted campaign of lies and abuse on a daily basis is not very pleasant, especially when they try and drag in your wife and kids.” Although Sardesai began what he calls a ‘Twitter detox,’ that didn’t satisfy the trolls who have continued the abuse and moved on to making phone calls complete with death threats, according to the senior journalist.

Anyone who has been on Twitter for even a few months will have not failed to notice this sort of trolling that has become the stuff of daily interaction on the network. At one point, when beef was a point of debate, the matter was taken up to the Prime Minster, but little changed and in fact it has been seen that his account follows some of the active trolls.

It is generally believed the trolls are handsomely paid for their efforts. Queen bees keep a sharp lookout for any line of thought that runs counter to the BJP’s agenda and quickly flag it for the trolls to take over. Terms like anti-national, intolerant, and anti-Hindu are freely used to call in the troll army.

The frenzy of hate can reach such levels that even the tragedy of the death of the daughter of Congress politician Digvijay Singh from cancer is not off limits. Another senior journalist, Barkha Dutt, just had to tweet a condolence message to set off a barrage of foul posts.

None of what goes on is what Twitter could have hoped for from one of the companies biggest potential markets, but more than that, perhaps few could have believed social media would reveal such an ugly side of humanity.