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It’s Shocking How The Co-Founder Of A Popular Online Portal Trolled Me For My Views On JNU

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By Shamim Zakaria:

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On social media, you cannot keep getting likes for your comments and opinions. Internet trolling is something that comes as an added agony. Livia Veselka and Philip A. Vernon in The Dark Triad of Personality have defined online trolling as, “the practice of behaving in a deceptive, destructive, or disruptive manner in a social setting on the Internet with no apparent instrumental purpose.” Further, “from a lay perspective, Internet trolls share many characteristics of the classic Joker villain: a modern variant of the Trickster archetype from ancient folklore.”

Speaking from a journalistic perspective, trolls also have long-term effects on journalists, who find it dispiriting to have their work constantly criticised. Even virulent personal attacks on writers are quite common. Well known names of Indian journalism including the likes of Rana Ayyub, Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai among others have always been the favorites of troll ‘army’. Georgina Henry, editor of The Guardian’s Comment Is Free, has also expressed her sheer dislike of abusive comments from trolls on a regular basis.

Apparently most of the political parties in India are believed to run orchestrated online campaigns to get things trending. However, the politicians cannot themselves escape from being bullied online.

Online anonymity is the greatest advantage for trolls and works as a magnet for them. Their sole purpose is to disrupt and annoy, therefore, they are mostly left ignored.

Speaking from my personal experience as an ardent internet user and being vocal on various issues, I too am hurled with abuses by the trolls, which I mostly prefer to ignore. But, I do keep a check on the comments on my Facebook page. One reason is that it is used widely does not have a word limit for posts, and the second is that most of my family members are Facebook users as well and I tend to filter audience comments which are abusive, vulgar or demeaning.

I have been opining a lot on the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) fiasco, condemning the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) political witch hunting of students, branding dissenting voices as ‘anti-national’ and their attempt to curb freedom of speech and expression.

The saga was the same as always – there were civilised rebuttals that are always welcome and there were comments with cuss words which I filtered. However, I was taken aback when I got a comment from the co-founder of a popular online portal. His manner qualified him as a troll. Sprinkled with abuses, his comments took the stance that Indians living abroad have no right to opine on national issues, which is similar to most of India’s right-wing fanatics. While there wasn’t any substance to his argument, his rebuttal hovered around phrases like ‘sipping English tea’ and ‘residing in the United Kingdom’.

I took a screenshot and made public one of his comments to which he made a few more abusive comments. But he deleted them quickly. I saw that he had posted screenshots of my posts and my previous blog posts on his timeline supplemented by his defaming opinions. These too were taken down within a few hours. Though he pretended that he was not breaching my privacy by blurring my photograph and name, the title of my write-ups being visible, one could easily search for the writings online and find out who I was.

My blogs already being available on a public forum, his actions did not bother me much. But what is worrisome is that a person heading a portal with over one million likes abides by such an ideology. I would have ignored him but the reason for making it public is that his website is highly popular among the 18-30 age group. It could be used to influence people with false propaganda very easily. He was indeed using his portal to disseminate his views on the JNU incident. He feels that all those expressing solidarity with JNU should be slapped after applying a lubricant on their cheeks!

I am told that this fellow is in the habit of hurling online abuses. He had previously sent similar abusive messages to the founder of one of his competitor portals.

Trolls may be blatantly offensive in order to get their point across or may seek to lure others into useless circular discussions. Thus, we often tend to ignore such things happening online. But sometimes, they need to be checked. As Amy Binns elicits in her paper Don’t Feed The Trolls, “…Allowing amoral, narcissistic behaviour online may also have dangerous consequences for the individual offline.”

What trolls appear to be seeking is the construction of an identity or wishing to be part of the ‘group’. But the dangerous thing is that they often they do it merely to cause disruption for their own amusement. They try to influence discussions negatively. Anonymity leads to what Binns calls “toxic disinhibition” which is “characterised by rude language, harsh criticisms, anger [and] hatred.” This particular troll did not even need that.

You must be to comment.
  1. Anand Kumar

    He did not trolled you but told you something justificable or you can term un-meaningless reality!!!

  2. Dinesh

    Last email screenshot is so much out of context.
    How do I know?
    I know who sent it and to whom. So stop misleading people.

  3. Eepsita Das

    If a person cannot express their opinions, then these so called nation loving people cannot say India is tolerant.
    Shouting Vande Mataram and attacking journalists is nowhere near legal. Arresting students and trying to supress the critical thinkers is not healthy democracy.
    Deeply comdemn such acts.

  4. Chandrakant sharma

    Shamim how can you say that some dissenting voices are not any threat to india. One can have difference of opinion from a person , or institution or organisation but how can you have difference of opinion from a nation in which one is born and brought up. Right to dissent is there and yes one is free to use their right but answer one question did you know the responsibilities in the constitution of India that a citizen must follow. I hope after this you read those to, if you didn’t knew.

    Yes you dissent from a politicle group or a leader of particular group but how that dissent of politicle party or its leader gives right to eulogise a terrorist. The democracy and right to free speech and action that you are fighting for was tried to destroyed by this afzal guru himself. While he had accepted all the charges in the trial and confesses that he was the part of the planning of that terrorist attack.

    I understand you are angry over the response of the guy given to you, but trust me his words may be harsh but true.

    Sitting somewhere else and propagating something to which you don’t even knew actual situation of is foolishness.

    And right to dissent or freedom of speech is not for the particular community or a some section of society only. It is for everyone even for the guy who had said all that to you. So if you are free to put your idea on front of people so have courage to accept the responses to. Because freedom of speech is for everyone.

  5. Srinivas

    Anybody that has an opinion against you is a troll?

  6. Srinivas

    “me much. But what is worrisome is that a person heading a portal with over one million likes abides by such an ideology. I would have ignored him but the reason for making it public is that his website is highly popular among the 18-30 age group. It could be used to influence people with false propaganda very easily.”

    Did you read that? Oh the irony of Marxist idiots!

  7. Akanksha Bisht

    Mr. Zakaria, I understand that you’re a budding journalist and you’ve a point of view that was recently contradicted. But that doesn’t mean that you start behaving like a ‘soap opera’ and make this about you. Its a national issue, we all have our views, let’s just stay focussed on the issue itself rather than start complaining on the world wide web that somebody opposed your views. This is the world not the first grade. So don’t be a sissy and face appreciation and contradiction with an open mind. Such a disappointing piece.

  8. Ray

    Mr. Shamim. There is a huge difference between being pwned and trolled. What you have experienced is major burn as a result of being pwned. I am not a right wing fanatic and I am a member of a minority non – Hindu community. It is with great pleasure that I agree with most of the views expressed by my countrymen regarding your extreme “pansy-ness”. In conclusion, you are an idiot and I have just wasted 2 minutes of my time.

  9. M

    Upholder of “right to dissent” cannot tolerate dissent!!! And needs to act victim- either stop commenting on things or have the courage to bear the consequences- the person is not reacting to you, he is reacting to your thoughts and ideas- and if they are so sacred, do not post them on social media…simple

  10. Irshad Ansari

    I have the same views as you have sir but I don’t understand the meaning of this piece. It reeks of stupidity. This is a website where write ups are submitted in order to influence not to gather pity. Are we supposed to feel sad for you? Or angry? Just because someone sized you up on social media. Your bio states that you are a political writer but your writing dictates that you are a squealer. Hope you had written about the issue itself. And I hope that all that masters course in England makes you a bit more enlightened because as of now you come as a moron.

  11. Anurag.

    Contradicting opinions in a healthy democracy. But contradicting opinions like this!!.. I Dun know but it seems a bit of a shamefull act… Think if arnab wants to contradict a political opinion, he won’t tell the politicians to apply vasaline on someone’s face and see a video! Democracy supports healthy discussions, not mockery.

  12. Ramit

    Why did you not use the name of the actual perpetrator. Are you afraid? Would love to know whom are we following online.

  13. dshetty

    If I cannot justify my stand using logic, why not label everyone a troll and continue living in ignorant bliss.

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