CJP Impact: Twitter suspends 21 accounts threatening Muslim women with sexual violence 3 accounts actioned for violating Twitter rules, 11 posts removed
12, Jul 2021 | CJP Team
Twitter has responded to Citizens for Justice and Peace’s (CJP) complaint against certain accounts that engaged in an abusive campaign against Muslim women. These accounts often used foul language, posted obscene and pornographic content, and encouraged sexual violence against Muslim women.
In their response dated July 9 to our complaint (Case number #0210218588), Twitter apprised us that they took cognisance of the 21 accounts we reported, and suspended them for “violating Twitter’s Terms of Service”.
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Further, three unchecked accounts have been “actioned for violating Twitter’s Media Policy”. Twitter’s media policy categorically states that no user is allowed to post content that is excessively gory or share violent or adult content within live video or in profile header, or list banner images. Media depicting sexual violence and/or assault is also not permitted as per its rules.
Twitter’s policy reads, “We prohibit violent sexual conduct to prevent the normalization of sexual assault and non-consensual violence associated with sexual acts. We prohibit gratuitous gore content because research has shown that repeated exposure to violent content online may negatively impact an individual’s wellbeing. For these reasons, you can’t share images or videos that depict violent sexual conduct or gratuitous gore on Twitter.”
CJP in its complaint dated May 26, had also brought to Twitter’s attention certain posts made through these accounts that that demeaned Muslim women as “sex objects for Hindu men”. The content displayed pornographic videos of women in hijab with inflammatory captions presenting Muslim women as objects meant to be sexually exploited, and also photoshopped pictures of Hindu men and pregnant women in saffron hijab. Out of these, Twitter has removed 11 posts for violating Twitter norms.
In addition to this, certain reported accounts had already been removed after our complaint and thus, Twitter could not take appropriate action. Twitter also informed us that another online post reported by us was not hosted by it, and appeared to be posted on a third-party website (Facebook). CJP shall pursue this with Facebook and it intends to keep a close track of such content on all digital platforms and file complaints before appropriate authority as part of our sustained Hate Watch Campaign.
Our complaint to Twitter had focused on the repercussions of such online activity that saw its history in the incidents of communal violence and genocidal pogroms that have damaged India’s social fabric for decades. In both the 2002 Gujarat genocidal carnage, and the Muzaffarnagar pogrom of 2013, rape and gendered violence was used as a weapon of violence against Muslim women.
CJP’s complaint had cited an instance of mass distribution of hundreds of pamphlets with all sorts of messages spreading hatred against Muslims right before the anti-Muslim carnage in Gujarat. One such pamphlet named Jihad, inciting sexual violence against Muslim women was circulated, and in the next few months 300 to 500 Muslim women were raped, killed and mass humiliated in full public view. The complaint stated how this was CJP’s and its secretary, Teesta Setalvad’s first-hand experience at the time (2002).
CJP had also listed the various violations of the Twitter policy that disallows the targeting of people with unsolicited images or videos that contain graphic violence, adult content, or hateful imagery, the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, and the Indian Penal Code.
Our complaint to Twitter was based on a report in the online portal Article 14 (dated May 21, 2021) titled ‘Unchecked Tsunami Of Online Sexual Violence By Hindu Right Against India’s Muslim Women’. The report mentioned a catena of such abusive social media accounts with proper imagery, revealing a common pattern of Islamophobic content. It also documented harrowing experiences of women who have been subject to such online hate, and researchers who have interviewed men and women who make such accounts on social media.
In compliance with Rule 4(1)(d) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, we have published our inaugural report on July 11, 2021 for the reporting period from May 26, 2021 through to June 25, 2021.”
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