New Delhi: Twitter saw the social media version of a communal riot, lasting over a day, in the wake of the murder of Kamlesh Tiwari, the 45-year-old leader of ultra-Right outfit Hindu Samaj Party. The social media platform said it stopped an extremely provocative anti-Muslim hashtag from trending after complaints.
Tiwari, who was stabbed and shot on 18 October, rose to prominence with his strong anti-Muslim and pro-Hindutva stance, hate speeches and role in the Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya in 1992.
Over the weekend, the hashtag #मुस्लिमो_का_संपूर्ण_बहिष्कार (Total boycott of Muslims) became a top trend, garnering tweets from trolls, self-proclaimed Hindutva bhakts, pro-Right users and even some BJP leaders.
Boycott and stop buying any goods and services from these converted 🇮🇳🇮🇳
— (((Fearless Hindu))) (@_Hinduism_) October 20, 2019
Defamatory and inflammatory tweets did the rounds, including one video, which shows a young Muslim boy saying anybody who speaks against Islam will be gunned down. The video was retweeted nearly 1,000 times.
The Muslim madrasas taught Hindus are Kafir , convert them to Islam those who do not convert kill them. Why does the govt funding madrassa to makes terrorist #मुस्लिमों_का_संपूर्ण_बहिष्कार pic.twitter.com/hSqkgL2Rix
— RAJENDER JOSHI (@rajenderjoshi2) October 21, 2019
Other posts on the micro-blogging site called for ostracising Muslims.
After users flagged the tweets for their content, Twitter responded to ThePrint saying, “We do not tolerate the abuse or harassment of people on the basis of religion. As per our Help Center, there are Rules for trends and we have prevented this hashtag from trending as it was in violation of the Twitter Rules.”
By the time the hashtag was taken off top trends Tuesday, other hashtags had picked up, which called for a revolt against using or buying goods from Muslims. The content escalated to extremely graphic videos and images threatening violence.
A Twitter spokesperson said the singular goal of the platform is to “improve the health of the public conversation.”
“Attempting to game trending topics is a practice as old as trends on Twitter themselves, and we’ve invested heavily in thwarting spam and other attempts to manipulate trends. Importantly, as bad actors change their tactics, we actively modify our technological tools to stay ahead,” the spokesperson said in response to why Twitter took more than a day to act on the hashtags.