Independence on social media

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In my previous article, I had discussed #ItEndsWithMe campaign by me. By speaking up and calling the abusers out we are not allowing them to hide behind their screens and their anonymity to spew hate on the internet. I also started this campaign, aptly called #IgnoreNoMoreOnline to empower both, men and women everywhere to protect themselves against the nasty trolls all over the internet.

The latter took form out of my self-realization as discussed in my earlier article (link of an earlier article) And it’s time to put an end to it. Here are some details on what the campaign is, why we started it and most critically, how it works.  What is #IgnoreNoMoreOnline?

Shortly after Teena Singh became vocal on the harassments, she came across a lovely fellow known on Instagram and @shubhamcybercop. A cyber expert, investigator and advisor for government agencies. The Wire introduced him as “the ‘cybercop’ working in the ‘Bois Locker Room’ case” and suddenly he was my new virtual best friend.

I was supremely impressed that he managed to track down one of the Instagrammers who was harassing Teena and get him to record a video apology in 72 hours. I’m pretty sure that kid is never going to send a creepy DM again. His parents are grateful he was spared an FIR because he’s underaged and Teena decided not to press charges, but she could have. So, of course, I pinged him. Here was my chapter on cybercrime, ready to write itself!

A look at the impact of #IgnoreNoMoreOnline so far,

What has been impactful and effective is the enlisting of individuals like @shubhamcybercop who have been successful in tracking harassers and contacting them or their families (in the case of minors). This has elicited apologies and accountability.

And what do you do when you want to rally the Internet to join your crusade? You make a hashtag of course! Ours is #IgnoreNoMoreOnline. Fairly self-explanatory and quite catchy if I say so myself. My friend Huzaifa Lightwalla (and a shining light – pun fully intended! of positive masculinity) helped craft the messaging and create all our social media assets for this courtesy his design company Studio 7 Advertising.

I realised that the most important thing that was missing was this simple information. Where do I go? The very same question that was preventing me from writing this chapter is now helping me rewrite my online legacy. Brilliant isn’t it?

Shortly after that, I got a few enquiries from friends and even some strangers asking how they could file a complaint and so I put them in touch with our friendly neighbourhood cybercop!

So far, we’ve had support from various celebrities and eminent personalities like Faye D’Souza, Malaika Arora, Kalki Koechlin, Sarah Jane Dias, Sherry Shroff, Shveta Salve, Teena Singh, Yuvika Chaudhary, Rohit Roy, Suchitra Pillai, Nikhil Mehra, Adhuna Bhabani, Gauahar Khan, Karan Tacker, Narayani Shastri, Saloni Chopra, Saqib Saleem, Ruhi Singh and several other. Several women from Malini’s Girl Tribe and in general, on social media, have come forward and shown their support to #IgnoreNoMoreOnline.

An excerpt from my upcoming book tentatively titled “The Accidental Troll” with Harper Collins

As I was planning out this book, I always wanted to add in a chapter about the cybercrime division. How it works, if it works, and how you go from point A to Z in the process. I even asked Member of Parliament, Milind Deora once and he said that I could simply report it to the police and they would take action. But I kept putting it off thinking it’s going to take a bold trek to the police station and what if they laugh me out of there for coming to complain about creep in my DMs? And then the most amazing thing happened—I have a friend who’s an actress and model named Teena Singh and she has been known to call out creeps publicly on Instagram and been very much applauded for it.

One day I heard that she had taken things up a notch by finding the profiles of parents, teachers and relatives of the offending DMers and started reporting them directly to their families. This, I thought, was all kinds of genius. Not so much taking the law into your own hands but giving the folks at home a serious reality check into exactly what the apple of their eye does online all day. She, in turn, was happy to report that the parents were understandably mortified and very apologetic and then the creeps suddenly changed their tune from “Show me your juicy b**bs” to “Sorry didi, I’ll never do it again”.

Anyway, I immediately called her to tell her how fabulous I thought this was, primarily because it takes mind space and courage and because she had found a way to empower herself to do something about this horrible harassment women face day in and day out and have sadly resigned themselves to ignore. But why? Why should we ignore this abuse? It’s unfair, unhealthy and most definitely uncalled for. But someone, as in all things, women are told not to make a fuss under the guise of “haters gonna hate”. This kind of abuse, however, is very different from hating. This is intentional stalking, sexual harassment and mental anguish and best of all it is officially a crime punishable by 3-7 years in prison. I bet if the creeps knew that they’d take a minute before mass messaging that pic of a d**k.

We all can contribute to our capacity to make the cyberspace safer for everyone and that is going to be an “Independence” on social media when every fellow out here can be themselves fearlessly.

Part 1 – Have you been Cyber bullied?

Part 2 – Independence on Social Media

Part 3 – Clear the trash in cyber space

Malini Agarwal is the Founder of MissMalini Media. With a rapidly expanding organic readership and a social media reach of over 6 million direct followers, she is considered one of India’s leading digital influencers and a leading authority on digital brand building. Named as India’s most famous blogger by The Huffington Post and Forbes, Malini has been featured in various international titles including BBC World (UK), Reuters, CNN (USA), DW (Germany), TV5(France) and The Globe & Mail (Canada). She is also a regular feature in local publications such as Vogue India, Elle India, Grazia India, Hello! India, India Today and NDTV Profit among many others. Expanding their media network, MissMalini made its foray into television in 2014, introducing the reality entertainment TV series, MissMalini’s World on TLC, and just introduced another celebrity show, Kya Seen Hai @MissMalini on ZOOM.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author.

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August 14, 2020 6:07 pm

[…] Part 2 – Independence on Social Media […]