Pune: Calling Twitter casteist and pro-Brahmin, hundreds of Twitter users have begun a campaign asking the social media site to pass the blue tick verification for public figures from marginalised communities. These users allege that many public figures from marginalised communities are not being verified by Twitter, however, many upper castes without considerable number of followers are verified.
Members of Bhim Army protested at the Twitter India office at Mumbai yesterday, November 4, demanding a stop to the discrimination against marginalised communities including Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, minority and backward classes.
Dilip Mandal, prominent journalist and activist, calling Twitter discriminatory started the campaign with the hashtag #VerifySCSCTOBCMinority. He has asked to verify handles of at least 500 personalities from these communities. Within a few hours, thousands started tweeting using the same hashtag.
Twitter grants blue tick verification to those handles that are of public interest including organisations and personalities. One has to send a request along with the details of the Twitter account to get blue tick verification. But currently this feature says that Twitter has stopped accepting requests for Blue Tick Verification.
Mandal told NewsClick, “Twitter India should explain what criteria it adopts while clearing blue tick verification for Twitter handles. Prakash Ambedkar, a political leader with over 40 K followers; and PA Ranjit, director of Tamil blockbuster movies – Kabali and Kala who has over 8 lakh followers are not verified. However, Jay Shah, son of Home Minister Amit Shah, who has mere 27 followers has a verified account.”
Founder of Tribal Army, Hansraj Meena tweeted, “Twitter India has leaned more towards right-wing ideology. It is suppressing the voice of Muslims, SC and ST.”
One of the supporters who participated in the , Sanath Bhartiya tweeted that Twitter has not even verified Ministry of Minority Affairs and Tribal Affairs India. Other notable public figures whose accounts are not verified with the blue tick are Prof Anandkumar, a professor from Bihar who gives free coaching to IIT aspirants; Rinku Rajguru, protagonist of the Marathi movie Sairat; and Dr Kafeel Khan, among others.
Many Twitter users have also pointed out the fact that ‘millions of tweets about Kashmir were removed’, and tweeted various allegations such as – Twitter is fascist and a right-wing supporter, Twitter is suppressing the voice of downtrodden, etc.
Many right wing accounts having not more than 100 followers are verified as pointed out by users.
Bhim Army protests at Twitter India in Mumbai
Members of Bhim Army, a dalit rights organisation headed by Chandrashekhar Azad, on November 4, protested at Twitter India office at Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), Mumbai, demanding verification of the Twitter handle of Azad and 500 other scholars and activists from SC, ST, OBC and minority communities.
Ashok Kamble, a member of the national committee of Bhim Army, said, “Over 50 Bhim Army members gathered at Twitter India office for over three hours. Azad’s Twitter handle, which has millions of followers from across the world was suspended twice without reason. We want his Twitter handle to be verified and also of scholars and activists from marginalised communities.”
He also added, “Twitter should immediately remove one handle @JaiBhimJaiGobar that tweets in obscene and non-dignified language about Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, Mahatma Phule and many idols of dalit, minorities and backward classes. If our demands are not met within two days, we will protest again.” Police reportedly detained a few Bhim Army members at BKC Police Station.
Twitter India is yet to respond to an email asking the criteria of getting one’s account verified with blue tick and why Twitter handles of those from marginalised communities are being suspended regularly.
How the campaign started
On November 1, Dilip Mandal’s Twitter handle was restricted after he tweeted about a book Dalit Agenda and had mentioned the contact details of the author of the book with the latter’s permission. Though Twitter revoked the restrictions on his handle after a few hours, when he posted that he would not remove the particular tweet, his handle was suspended. In his tweet, he wrote that he would try his best to get Manish Maheshwari, Managing Director of Twitter India, sacked.
He started a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #casteistTwitter the same day. Thousands then joined the online campaign and it was among the top ten trends on that day. Another online Twitter campaign with the hashtag #JaiBhimTwitter was also trending in the top ten the next day.
Meanwhile, they also ran other Twitter campaigns asking the removal of Manish Maheshwari with hashtag #SackManishMaheshwari, #BrahmanvadiTwitter, and #RestoreProfRatanlal.
Professor Ratanlal’s account was restricted by Twitter citing that he violated rules of posting private information. Ratanlal had tweeted asking for AB+ blood for Prof Dwijendra Narayan Jha and had posted his number.
Today, on November 5, another campaign with hashtag #TwitterHatesSCSTOBCMuslims was also run.
Dilip Mandal said, “I don’t have issue if Twitter removes my blue tick. My campaign is against its discriminatory attitude. Now, Twitter has stopped taking requests for blue tick verification without explaining any reason.”