Why Dalit activists are furious with 'casteist' Twitter

Twitter is the most prevalent online platform for debates, conversations and political blame games, even in India where much of the population isn’t on Twitter.

While Jack Dorsey has already borne the brunt from both sides for holding up the ‘smash Brahminical patriarchy’ poster, Twitter is now being called out for its ‘casteist discriminatory system’ of handing out blue ticks, what some might call the true privilege of the elite in a digital world.

ThePrint columnist Dilip Mandal has accused Twitter of being ‘casteist’ and not verifying active accounts of people from the lower caste and minority on its platform. Mandal followed it up by standing in solidarity and asking Twitter to remove his blue tick as well.

The conversation sparked on Friday, Mandal told The Hindu, “In March this year, I had tweeted about a booklet titled Bahujan Agenda including the contact details of the author. The author had explicitly given me permission to tweet his contacts, but Twitter cited that as a violation of rules and restricted my account”. Twitter saw trends like #restoreDilipMandal on its platform, following which, his account restored and even verified.

He added saying that the social media platform was following a specific system that silences some while promotes the voices of others.

“Verified handles spew venom against Dalits, tribals, OBCs and Muslims and the company does not act. It shuts down accounts that call for ending discrimination. Anecdotal evidence suggest that this is caste bias and religious prejudice,”

Mandal even pointed out that Twitter hasn’t verified Anand Kumar, the teacher that provided free education to economically less privileged students, account, even after he was awarded for his work.

Several users added to the concern and started using various hashtags like #TwitterHatesSCSTOBCMuslims, #JaiBheemJaiMandalJaiBirsa, #CasteistTwitter and #JaiBhimTwitter to authenticate the debate. The hashtag #SackManishMaheswari was in the list of trending on Twitter that targetted Manish Maheshwari, the managing director of Twitter India.

Today, the hashtag, #cancelallBlueTicksinIndia was trending on the second position on Twitter.

Dilip Mandal’s Twitter bio reads ‘Against Blue Tick Hierarchy’ and he is preaching it on the platform. While he spent a lot of time to demand a blue tick for himself and other Dalit and lower caste accounts, he is now rallying against the blue tick verification system itself.

He questioned Twitter and Manish Maheshwari about the discriminatory system that generates the verification icon for users. A Twitter spokesperson replied to the queries sent saying that the company follows one set of rules that is enforced “judiciously and impartially for all individuals — regardless of their political beliefs, religious ideology, professional position or background.”

However, in the thousands of tweets with the hashtags targetted against Twitter, Twitterati have given out several known names from the lower castes and minority groups who were not considered worthy enough for the blue tick.

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal

www.freepressjournal.in