9 reasons why PM Modi should unfollow haters on Twitter

The prime minister gives an impression that he is indirectly endorsing their views.

 |  4-minute read |   07-09-2017
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The assassination of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh, a vocal critic of the Sangh Parivar's brand of Hindutva, was celebrated by some people on Twitter. Nikhil Dadhich, who is followed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the microblogging site, abused Lankesh in his post that was later deleted. Several Twitter handles suggested that she deserved her fate. At least four such accounts are followed by PM Modi.

PM Modi is among the most popular leaders on social media in the world. He is the third-most followed world leader, after Pope Francis and US President Donald Trump. But there have been some worries about the kind of people he follows. As of now, he follows 1,779 Twitter handles. Many of them are abusive and dubbed as trolls. This has left many people wondering why the PM would follow such trolls.

Forget about his critics, even Modi's admirers are suggesting he should unfollow the abusive tweeple. Here are 9 reasons why the prime minister should reconsider his decision and withdraw his "patronage" to abusive online trolls. 

1. By following abusive trolls, the prime minister gives an impression that he is indirectly endorsing their views. Modi he is not just an individual, but also the prime minister of the largest democracy in the world. Hence, it is beneath his and the country’s dignity.

2. These trolls boast of the fact that they are followed by the prime minister. This gives them added publicity and that in turn helps them in adding followers. Hence, they draw substantive eyeballs. So, a "following" by the PM works as oxygen for these online bullies. 

3. Given that the prime minister follows these trolls, cyber security agencies may shy away from taking action against them, even when they are libellous, abusive and threatening. Information and technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad slammed online trolls for expressing happiness over the killing of Gauri Lankesh. Prasad called the act of trolls shameful and said he expected speedy action by the Karnataka Police. Won’t a police officer think twice before taking action against someone who is followed by the prime minister?

4. Twitter has said that those violating its policies may find their accounts locked or suspended. The warning follows venomous tweets directed toward slain journalist Gauri Lankesh. Won’t it give the prime minister a bad name, if such blocked accounts are seen to be followed by him?

5. On February 2, 2017, Trinamool Congress MP in the Rajya Sabha, Derek O'Brien, said, "Twenty six Twitter handles that give out rape threats, communal threats, are followed by the Prime Minister of India. Two of these Twitter handles have been suspended by Twitter.”

If that’s true, should the prime minister not take remedial measures? And do so immediately?

nikhil_090617072709_090717062429.jpgScreengrab/Twitter

6. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley explained his stance of filing a defamation case against Arvind Kejriwal and not sue noted scholar Madhu Kishwar, who had originally tweeted about the alleged corruption by Jaitley in the DDCA. Kejriwal had re-tweeted Kishwar’s tweet, but the Union minister said many people in social media make irresponsible statements about people in public life, but “when a chief minister endorses them, it becomes a grave and serious matter”.

If a re-tweet by an authority becomes a serious matter why is following trolls by the PM not a serious matter? There may be a difference of degree, but this too is endorsement.

7. Amit Shah, while showering praise on Prime Minister Modi said he is like Swami Vivekananda and labelled him an “accepted global leader”. No world leader follows anyone who issues rape or death threats to rivals online.  If the BJP president thinks Modi is a world leader, shouldn’t he also follow this global tradition?

8. If the intent of the prime minister behind following them was to get their feedback, it is obviously not working. Rather, it is hurting the PM's reputation.

9. The prime minister must show the way and send a clear message to people in constitutional positions to refrain from following such abusive trolls on social media.

Also read: Why I disagree with people wanting to block Narendra Modi on Twitter

Writer

Ashok Upadhyay Ashok Upadhyay @ashoupadhyay

Editor, India Today Television.

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