‘You need to be raped’, ‘I’ll throw acid on your face’. These are a few threats Chinmayi Sripaada received for just expressing her opinion on Twitter.
“When I tried to report these threats, Twitter simply ignored my fears. They told me that they would not take any action unless there was a police case. Most women give up at this stage and quit Twitter. I decided to fight and filed a police complaint. Ultimately it was my fans who helped us identify my abusers. Three people were arrested and spent 10 days in jail. The entire incident left me furious! I am a celebrity and I have time, support and resources to fight. But what about the millions of ordinary women who use Twitter and face rape threats every day? It is the responsibility of Twitter to ensure that their platform is not used for promoting violence against women. That’s why I started this petition asking Twitter to send a strong message against online abuse by doing a large-scale shutdown of accounts which tweet rape threats against women”. she wrote in her petition, adding that the “threats of violence left me shaken and scared for my life.”
Most women celebrities have been subjected to online abuse, especially if they are vocal about their opinions, said Sunitha Sarathy. “I got rape threats because some people online misunderstood my tweet on cow slaughter. Another incident was when I sang for a film starring actor Ajith. Immediately, many fans of actor Vijay abused me online. It makes no sense. I have blocked many people but what else can be done?” she questioned.
Actress Vishakha Singh said that there should be a way to hold online abusers accountable for their actions. “I had a tech company with freelance techies, who worked round the clock to block and report abusive threats to my accounts. What Twitter can really do is show us a transparent method of dealing with these miscreants. Just blocking or muting is not going to help. I want this person, who is abusing online, to be held accountable,” she added, strongly.
During the recent Jallikattu protests, Poorva Joshipura, CEO, PETA India, was subject to hate tweets and vitriolic character assassination. “Some complaints were acted upon, but the sheer volume of hateful tweets and messages PETA India’s staff were receiving, including threats of rape and other violence, as well as countless misogynistic remarks, simply for being compassionate and doing our jobs as animal protectors shows developing policies to address all trolls may be a challenging, though necessary, task for social media sites,” she said.
Many other animal activists in the city too were subjected to threats of violence on social media. Anthony Rubin, an animal activist, said that since many of these tweets and posts were in Tamil, or written in English, his efforts to block these messages were futile.
“I received threats of violence and abusive messages. There was also a poster circulating online, saying that I was taking money for my cases, which was not true. When I reported it to Twitter and Facebook, I got a reply two weeks later that they didn’t see any violation in the messages. This is because of the content which is either in Tamil or vernacular messages written in English. I complained to the Police too, who were quite helpful,” he revealed.