Is Maneka Gandhi’s Anti-troll Initiative Defensive?

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The Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi launched an anti-trolling campaign for checking online harassment of women recently. There has been quite a bit of reaction from all quarters on this. Will it really be effective? Is it just a PR exercise? We will have to wait and watch. Uday takes a hard look and analyses this initiative. Here’s his report for Different Truths.

Online Harassment: Is it really that much of a Menace?

It really is! Ranging from unwanted contact, trolling, persistent stalking to threats of rape and death is fast becoming very common with the advent of the social media. Even with all the privacy policies setup, the internet with its social media avatar is becoming a big bad world out there. Personally I know of two of my close friends, who were harassed to the point of depression. One of them, who is an entrepreneur, and requires her contact information to be put up online had to change two phone numbers to get rid of a pesky character from the gulf who persistently stalked her online. It is scary!

So will #IamTrolledHelp?

On the face of it, it does sound like someone is sitting up and taking notice. We do have a cyber-cell setup in our country, but we have a long way to go before all of this becomes effective. In light of that, an initiative from the Union ministry to be cognizant of this menace is not a bad initiative. A lot of reaction coming online, including ones that are actually trolling the minister for setting this up appear to be politically motivated. Some of them are saying that this is a means to get Varun Gandhi noticed seems to be absolutely preposterous.

On the flip side, I think the announcement came a little bit unprepared. The minister could have done better by detailing out the strategy, anticipating and answering all questions in advance and going out in the media from various fronts. The addendum to the initiative (see below) makes the whole initiative feel very defensive.

Detailing out the entire initiative, on what happens after a complaint is received, what is the preparedness the ministry as well as the cyber-cell has to crackdown on the trolls would really add a lot of solidness to this whole initiative.

What to expect?

The hope is that this is not just another “one-month wonder” and it all fizzles out soon. If the minister is really committed to solving this menace, she should work on plugging the loopholes. Adding awareness about existing tools on social media that allows users to keep their profiles private, block unwanted attention as well as counselling them to ignore trolls will make this entire campaign more effective.

No doubt, this is a menace and can cause a lot of mayhem in an unsuspecting, unprepared woman’s life. Anything done to solve this issue will be welcome. However, the machinery to sift through tons of email, including SPAM and other trolls to the designated email ID as well as the response time and action taken against these unwanted characters in ones lives will be important metrics that will discuss the overall success of this initiative. Wait and watch!

©Uday Biradar

Pix sourced by author from Net.

Uday Biradar is a software professional based out of Mumbai. He works in the Oil & Gas industry creating software products that monitor critical machinery and keep them running. Outside of work, Uday likes to travel and trek the sahyadri ranges near Mumbai. He likes to share wada-pav, chai and laughter with friends.