Abuse from right wing handles is unfortunately an inevitable part twitter experience when you have an ideology that is different from theirs. If one was to draw a list of handles that are the target of most abuse on Twitter, Rana Ayyub will feature very prominently in the list. She ticks all the boxes: Journalist, female, Muslim and an outspoken critic of the BJP government. Every tweet, every word of hers is under scrutiny by scores of right wing handles for whom journalists like her are the sole raison d’être.
It was therefore not surprising when a Twitter user, Sonam Mahajan (@AsYouNotWish) dug out a 2014 tweet of Rana Ayyub.
How delightful it must be for the troll brigade to discover an “abusive” tweet from the one who claims to be a target of abuse. Rana Ayyub was recently the focus of much attention when she named and shamed a UAE based abuser who was subsequently fired and deported by his employer.
Despite Rana Ayyub’s clarification that these are not her words and is simply a quoted tweet, hordes of abusers have descended on her twitter timeline. The user account @dhakadjatin, whose tweet was quoted by Rana doesn’t exist anymore so there is no way to access his original tweet.
Some of those who are trolling her may not be aware that way back in 2014, the feature of quoting a tweet was not available and people manually retweeted if they had to add a comment. On the other hand, many may actually be aware of this and still choose to join the mob purely because of who the target is. Twitter introduced the feature to quote tweets in April 2015:
A look at other tweets of that time show that Rana Ayyub is right when she says she was merely quoting the abuser. If we look at the responses to her tweet in 2014, the flow of events is clear.
Some users have condemned the abuse.
Predictably a Hindu Nationalist (HDL) account commended the abuser (@DhakadJatin) for his choice of words.
Another Right Wing account ( @IntolerantGunda) applauded the guy for his abuses to Rana Ayyub
Another one tweeted that he reported the said account and got it suspended and that she should have done the same.
Another user commented that by quoting, she is coming across as the guy.
And one user quotes that she deserves every bit of abuse by @DhakadJatin.
From the above tweets, it is clear that @dhakadjatin had used abusive language and Rana Ayyub had made that abuse public, just like she did in the recent case of Bincy Lal. Though his original tweet is not available, people had reacted to Rana Ayyub’s tweet where she quoted the abuser and had even reported the abuser. Two years later, she is being trolled because the words of the abuser she quoted are being thought of as her own words.
There is nothing in Rana Ayyub’s tweets over the years that may suggest that the abusive language used was hers. If it was, all hell would have broken loose at the time she tweeted those words. Many of those trolling Rana Ayyub are fully aware of this but still refuse to publicly acknowledge that this is nothing but a quoted tweet. The mindless mob mentality has taken over. Why miss a chance to throw a stone at a favourite target? The bile after all has to find an outlet.
Independent journalism that speaks truth to power and is free of corporate and political control is possible only when people start contributing towards the same. Please consider donating towards this endeavour to fight fake news and misinformation.