In a crackdown on trolls and vitriolic sentiments being spread via social media, the Department of Telecom on Friday provided a platform to those receiving abusive and inappropriate WhatsApp messages and asked them to report them with screenshots and contact number of the abuser.
DoT official Ashish Joshi tweeted, "If anyone is receiving abusive, offensive, vulgar or death threat WhatsApp messages, please send screenshots of the message along with the mobile number to email@example.com. We will take it up with the telecom operators and police heads for necessary action."
DoT Secretary Aruna Sundararajan was tagged in Joshi's tweet.
Senior journalists, including Barkha Dutt, who were subjected to "vicious trolling" on social media platforms like Twitter and WhatsApp after the Pulwama attack, welcomed the move. In response to the DoT announcement, Dutt said she would get in touch with the department and "thanked" them for the information.
Journalists like Dutt and Ravish Kumar, among others, were trolled on social media after they pointed out the harassment Kashmiris were facing in several parts of the country in the aftermath of the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on 14 February. The Jaish-e-Mohammed attack on a CRPF convoy killed 42 personnel of the paramilitary force.
On 19 February, Dutt publicly shared her complaint to Twitter authorities after receiving violent threats and obscene messages over the microblogging site. Dutt had tweeted that an army of trolls was constantly harassing her with death and rape threats after "someone circulated her phone number on social media". She shared some of these inappropriate messages on Twitter, but then got "locked out" of the website till she took down many of these details. She then wrote to Twitter India.
"I had close to 1,000 abusive messages and calls in a coordinated and violent mob attack. These included a message to shoot me, a nude photo and many sexually abusive messages," she wrote in a tweet.
On 20 February, various press organisations spoke out in solidarity with the journalists facing abuse on social media and released a statement, asking the Ministry of Home Affairs to book the people spreading vitriol against them. These included the Women's Press Corps, Press Club of India and Press Association.
"Such messages have the potential to incite hatred and invariably lead to hate crimes. We urge the government to look into this with the urgency it deserves," they said.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Feb 24, 2019 14:25:21 IST