Viral tweets called police to shoot protesters in India


Calls to “shoot” farmers protesting against controversial agricultural reforms in India tended for hours on Twitter on Tuesday, as thousands of tweets cheering police brutality against them flooded the platform.

Violence it exploded in the Indian capital on Tuesday after thousands of farmers, who have been camped on the outskirts of New Delhi for nearly two months to protest the government’s agricultural reforms that they say will harm their livelihoods, entered the city ​​and clashed with police. Protesters opened police barricades around the city and stormed Fort Roig, a historic national monument. Police used sticks and fired shells of tear gas. Authorities also shut down Internet access in some parts of the capital, prompting Indian officials frequently to cancel the protests. At least one protester was killed.

On Twitter, supporters of India’s Hindu nationalist government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, called the farmers “farmers” who protested and encouraged police brutality against them. “They are not farmers. They are worms, wearing fake farmer masks, “said one of the viral tweets, which used the hashtag” #shoot. “” Applying @AmitShah #shoot in sight is the only option, “said another tweet, which labels India’s interior minister and Modi’s right hand responsible for the country’s law and order.

“Stick them with batons, Delhi police,” the editor of a pro-government propaganda blog he tweeted in Hindi. “We’re with you.”

Tuesday morning, “Shoot” was one of the most popular songs on the platform in India, in addition to the Hindi phrase “Dilli Police lath bajao”, which translates freely to “Delhi Police, hit them with your canes” .

“Shoot” remained in the Trends section of Twitter in India for at least a couple of hours. He only disappeared after there was a public outcry and after BuzzFeed News emailed him asking for comments. The company also deleted the blog editor’s tweet, saying it violated Twitter rules and suspended his account for 12 hours. Still, the Hindi phrase encouraging police to use batons continued to be a trending topic for at least another hour. A “#shoot” search revealed hundreds of tweets asking police to shoot protesters.

“Today we have taken measures to protect the conversation of our service from attempts to do so incite violence, abuse i threats which could trigger the risk of offline damageA Twitter spokesman told BuzzFeed News. “Our team will take it.” strong application judicious action and impartiality on content, trends, tweets and accounts that infringe the Twitter rules. We encourage all users of the service to become familiar with the rules of Twitter and report everything they believe violates. We are following the situation closely and we are alert ”.

A day later, Twitter issued a new statement saying it was suspending more than 300 accounts dedicated to spam and platform manipulation. “We are keeping a close eye on the situation and keeping vigilant and strongly encouraging those on duty to report anything they believe violates the rules,” the company said.

In the United States, various technology platforms including Twitter he banned former President Donald Trump from the platform after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. Trump had been banned from the platform “because of the risk of additional violence.” he tweeted Vijaya Gadde, legal, political and trust and security manager of Twitter. Last year, the company put one up warning label in one of the former president’s posts about the Minneapolis protests that said, “[When] the looting begins, the shooting begins “.

But experts have argued that Silicon Valley-based companies like Twitter and Facebook have them double standards when implementing their own policies globally. In non-Western countries like India, which has been sliding towards authoritarianism under the Modi government in recent years, technology platforms often move slowly or do not act against people who use them as a weapon to cause real-world damage.

Last year, for example, Twitter left dozens of tweets doxing interfaith couples between Hindus and Muslims remain on the platform until BuzzFeed News asked the company about them. In December, protesters gathered in front of Menlo Park, California headquarters on Facebook, alleging that the social network was content censorship published in support of protesting Indian farmers. And the Wall Street Journal reported that Ankhi Das, Facebook’s top executive in India, had prevented the company from taking action against a Modi party politician for posting hate speech, saying doing so would harm the company’s business interests.

“Powerful interests everywhere have learned that Silicon Valley tools can be used to create a human rights bonfire, but the only time platforms care is when they get bad press,” said Alaphia Zoyab, director of Reset defense, a nonprofit technology policy that aims to address the information crisis created by technology platforms, he told BuzzFeed News.

“When Silicon Valley has to choose between protecting business interests or protecting human rights, they will choose the former,” he added. “The fact is that their current business model is fundamentally incompatible with democracy and freedom because a determined troll army in the camp of those in power can only hijack the platform to demand violence.”

Gadde did not respond to any requests for comment and Twitter declined to respond if India’s accounts encouraging violence would be permanently banned.

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