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Tweet First, Think Later: How right-wing trolling has become a joke on itself

This article is not a good idea. Because, what trolls seek is attention. And, these words are actually like feeding a pizza to a troll. Psychologists call this attention-seeking behaviour as online disinhibition effect which is creeping to us through our smartphones. 
 
One such incident that kept the right-wing troll army entertained on June 23rd was the vicious online attack on India’s Minister of External Affairs (MEA) Sushma Swaraj. They trolled her on Twitter after a regional passport officer in Lucknow was transferred for allegedly harassing an interfaith couple. Mohammad Anas Siddiqui and his wife Tanvi Seth, who have been married for 11 years, complained that an officer had allegedly asked Siddiqui to convert to Hinduism. Following this, the couple tweeted to Swaraj and sought her intervention in the issue. The MEA had assured of taking an “appropriate action”. The officer was served a show-cause notice and transferred. 
 
The social media abuse of Sushma Swaraj by right-wing trolls establishes the fact that the BJP has created an army of trolls it cannot control anymore. According to a statement by BJP’s UP IT cell member Mukteshwar Mishra “A dangerous online army of lakhs is following us, which is not even in our control.” 
 
Organised social media manipulation a global phenomenon
 

Everywhere from Turkey to Israel, from Russia to China and the US “the digital soldiers smear opponents, spread disinformation and post fake texts for “pocket money”, writes Leo Benedictus in The Guardian. Multiplied by social bots, that fake news makes it to the front pages of mainstream media houses. This explains how trolls and digital foot soldiers help governments all over the world in manipulating social media for their own ends.
 
“The loss of trust in media among people leads to subsequently adopting alternate ways of acquiring information or false information, since newsrooms seem to have been ignoring whatever they deem politically incorrect”, writes Stephan Russ Mohl from the European Journalism Observatory. 
 
For instance, Donald Trump’s Presidency and his ascent to the White house has caused a sudden rise of the alt-right troll army in the US. Trump himself is arguably best described as a provocateur; his preternatural talent for making subtly offensive statements has won him endless free media coverage, a fact he has touted with glee, states Emma Green of The Atlantic.
 
One of the most virulent ways that right-wing members use trolling is to support and promote hateful ideology. They do this by pretending to spoof how liberals, members of the media or how anti-Right groups view them. 
 
Since the 2014 election cycle, political provocateurs had received an incredible amount of attention. From harassing high-profile journalists to bullying various anti-BJP allies and leaders, right-wing trolls have used social media as an excuse to hide their bigotry with playfulness, legitimising hateful political speech. This also creates a perception that any group or an individuals can be hateful as they want, poisoning constructive arguments with senseless antagonism.
 
In the book “Online Trolling and Its Perpetrators: Under the Cyberbridge”, authors say that the 2014 elections in India reflect the extent to which memes and paid trolls and astroturfers can influence political dialogue. While Twitter trolls have attacked both women and men critical of Prime Minister Modi and the BJP, online attacks against women are vicious as they include rape and death threats.
 
Of anonymity & underlying misogyny 
 
The social media’s anonymity gives its owner the power of invisibility and freedom of expression, without accountability. Psychological research has proven that anonymity increases unethical behavior. Even the nature of instant interaction online without a context is promoting immediate emotional outbursts which could be defined as “Tweet First, Think Later” trend. It is this impulse to respond immediately that makes toxic trolls continue to do what they do.
 
In 2016, The Guardian analysed abusive comments posted on its articles. “Of the top 10 most abused journalists, eight were women. The other two were black men. Of the top 10 least abused, all were men.” 
 
Experiencing sexual harassment and abuse online is not limited to journalists and public figures alone. Australian Research has demonstrated that such experiences are routine for women, focused on more sexualised abuse.  
 
In India, film actress Priyanka Chopra was attacked online and hurled abuses by right-wing trolls for apparently “not showing respect to the Prime Minister and wearing an indecent dress” after she uploaded a picture of her meeting with Narendra Modi.  Similarly, high-profile women like Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghose, and recently, BJP’s very own, Sushma Swaraj have been at the receiving end of this troll army.  
 
Malicious online trolling by India’s right-wing trolls not only exposes the victim publicly, but denigrates further into their digging up their personal life, commenting on physical attributes, etc. In case of women. trolls circumvent the “how women should behave according to Indian culture, what they should wear, their opinions on political issues and their mannerisms within the community.”
 
In the wake of Narendra Modi’s rise to the Prime Ministerial post and many subsequent public displays of the right-wing’s chest-thumping nationalism, there has been a spurt in targeted trolling of women, even affecting some of their own. 
 
As many people seem to question whether “trolling” is the correct term to describe the right-wing’s online behaviour, we need to understand that not only is it inaccurate to label this behavior mere trolling — it is bad for democracy. What the BJP fails to understand about its troll army is that it has created a monster that could come to bite it, someday.
 

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