The Article 19 in the Constitution of India protects rights of all citizens’ speech and expression, allowing them to assemble peaceably and without arms. But, when the constitution was being drafted, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar was completely unaware of social media and trolls.
Who are trolls? Do trolls have the freedom of speech and expression. Should trolls be allowed to assemble and ghero anyone on social media and attack with abuses and threats?
Who are trolls?
The first question that rises is what’s correct, “who are trolls?” or “what are trolls?”
Wikipedia defines Trolling as:
“Someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”
In one line they can also be defined as those who/that produce/s “digital trash”.
Trolls usually have fake online identities, a lot of times people are paid to be trolls. Political parties use them to get in trend or lash out at opposition parties or celebrities with opposing views. This way, political parties silence dissent without direct participation.
There have been speculations and claims that many professional trolls work from outside India. (In Indian context)
Do trolls have freedom of speech and expression?
While many defend absolute freedom of speech and expression but these demands are made keeping rights of human beings in mind.
Yes, those operating these trolls are human being. But, they are not demanding their rights of free speech and expression as human beings rather their demands come through fake identities on social media.
Isn’t faking identities a crime? Yes it is. The irony is it has not been criminalised if one fakes his/her identity on social media.
Whatever idea had been behind forming social media, today’s truth is that it is the most powerful means to communicate with people and spread message.
After all, the role of social media in the Arab spring is well known.
In recent times, social media was well used by Bhartiya Janta Party(BJP) in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) used social media and took an edge. In Donald Trump’s victory as POTUS a lot has been said on the usage of social media.
Hence, it is important to acknowledge the role of trolls, how they influence a point of view, how they harrass and prevent ‘real people’ from giving out their point of views etc.
Should trolls be allowed to assemble and ghero anyone on social media and attack with abuses and threats?
Trinamool Congress lawmaker Derek O’Brien in parliament raised the subject of Twitter trolls and their alleged connection to the ruling BJP, and said some of them were invited to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s house for a “nice social digital party.”
Derek said, “Twenty six Twitter handles that give out rape threats, communal threats are followed by the Prime Minister of India. 26. Two of these handles have been suspended by Twitter.”
Trolls strategically target those on twitter with real identities and shower rape and death threats, abuses, racial attacks and hate words.
Such attacks are common practice by these trolls. Everyday there is a new victim.
Fake trends are also created by professional trolling team on social media. (These are not just limited to political parties but private companies and other organisations have been following these practices too.)
If people with ‘real identities’ on social media were doing the same, they would be behind bars and charged with various sections as per law.( For eg: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/…/2-mumbai-girls…/1/229846.html )
But, in case of trolls only their accounts can be suspended temoprarily. If accounts are permanantly blocked, more fake accounts replace them.
The abuses and hate goes on.
Social media users are growing exponentially, and it is fast becoming a space of digital filth, abuses, harrassment.
These trolls encourage ‘real people’ on social media to show similar aggression. Thus making the online world as well as real world more hateful and aggressive.
Lawmakers as well as CEOs of companies like Facebook, Twitter etc need to consider the influence of trolls and take adequate step before the digital violence enters the real world.