Trolling Aadhaar Critics

It’s not a news anymore. @jackerhack has written about this in detail. To which after a denial, the man behind the accounts has apologized. I have not met Sharad nor done any business with him. I have attended a product nation conclave couple of years back.

Thank you @jackerhack for alerting me and everyone else. Bravo. Though I noticed a recent rise in trolling. I didn’t pay much attention until every Aadhaar tweet of mine started getting aggressive responses. Many times similar ones from different accounts. There was a pattern. I did a basic check on the usernames and joining dates. It was clear that it was a group effort. But I didn’t know who it was. I kept looking for details as they started harassing other Aadhaar critics. Thank you @jackerhack for alerting me and everyone else. Bravo.

Though Sharad apologized, we still don’t know everyone behind it. It was clearly a group effort. Also I am quite disappointed by the Twitterati who jumped into shower him with adjectives like “brave”, “bravo” etc. They did so without inquiring/talking to the harassment victims 1. Most of them didn’t even face the harassment nor did they condemn when it was going on. So to jump in to call him brave is dubious.

Twenty third evening I did a tweetstorms to express what I think about this whole thing. I am reproducing them here.

  1. I have been online long enough to understand how trolls work. It hasn’t changed much since flame-war days
  2. Hence all the lists and communities we created had just one rule “Be Nice”. Its easy to enforce on email lists, irc or on slack.
  3. One can present any kind of PoV but needs to be Nice to everyone else or will be kicked out.
  4. This is where Twitter is different from lists or irc. Its left to the participant to be civil or not.
  5. It also offers anonymity to people, specially the one who can’t afford to speak otherwise.
  6. But using anonymity for speaking up and using it to abuse are not the same. Specially by a person who is in power & in no danger.
  7. In this case ( #Aadhaar #iSpirit ) intention was to clearly abuse, hurt and mislead a very important discussion.
  8. Its so happened that at the receiving end there were people who had seen enough flamewars & capable of defending online harassment
  9. Imagine if abuse receivers were non technical, forget about outing a troll they would have stopped talking
  10. Which is what usually trolls want. They want you shut you. We have seen this again and again.
  11. For examples see the series #LetsTalkAboutTrolls
  12. This #Aadhaar #iSprit trolls are not very different from the trolls mentioned in #LetsTalkAboutTrolls
  13. Just that they got caught red hand, has a reputation to maintain in real life and hence the apology.
  14. It would be stupid to think abuse would have stopped if they weren’t caught & won’t transform into other forms like legal, IT, funding
  15. This is just the beginning because #Aadhaar conversation is not over yet.
  16. Calling an apology “brave” or “bravo” without enquiring about what kind of effect it had on community doesn’t instill confidence , imho.
  17. I expect #iSprit #Aadhaar community to act beyond calling it “brave”, work on rebuilding trust, which at this point frankly is -ve.
  18. Community building is hard. The most important raw materials are trust and providing safe area to express unpopular opinions
  19. So next few days IT/startup/tech community will watch how the whole #iSprit org/#Aadhaar community works to regain the trust
  20. Good night. EOF.

Again my issue is not that he used an anonymous account. Anyone and everyone is free to use anonymous account. But the issue here is using an anonymous account to harass critics.

I wish this trolling incident had not happened. Many more had just started talking openly on Aadhaar. This incident has a chilling effect on them.

Update 31/May/2017: I am very disappointed by iSpirt. You can read the public statement made by Sharad 2 on behalf of iSPIRT created IGCC team to investigate this issue.

  1. Yes, it was online harassment. Other Aadhaar critics got harassed much more than me.
  2. Yes, by Sharad

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