Journalist, a writer and popular #MeToo campaigner, Sandhya Menon, on Wednesday, August 28, condemned Twitter India for banning a Mumbai-based lawyer after mistaking a banter for "violent threats".
Menon slammed the social media platform for suspending Rutuja Shinde's account after she replied to another user saying, "Sir I will murder you," in casual banter. She shared a screenshot of an email from Twitter received by Shinde which stated that @HavaldarShinde's account was suspended for violating "Twitter Rules" specifically for "violating our rules against posting violent threats".
Now you've gone and suspended @HavaldarShinde's account because of banter that you think threatens violence to someone.— Sandhya Menon (@TheRestlessQuil) August 28, 2019
I suspect she might know a thing or two about murdering someone and its consequences. Possibly when she was earning her law degree @TwitterIndia @twitter pic.twitter.com/DCWVwrfeNP
Twitter warned that if any attempt to evade a permanent suspension is made "by creating new accounts, we will suspend your new accounts". It also stated that for appealing against the suspension, the Twitter support team should be contacted.
Both Shinde and Twitter were contacted for comments. Their response is awaited.
While on one hand, the incident may look like a straightforward mishap, Menon in her Twitter thread highlighted Twitter's lack of response to serious violent messages, including rape threats that women receive by online trolls.
Citing examples, including the controversial Hindutva academician Madhu Kishwar's recent racist comments against Muslims on Twitter, Menon questioned the site's understanding of 'safety' and violence. Many people, especially women and activists on Twitter, have claimed that the rise of pro-Bharatiya Janata Party Hindutva "sanghis" have made the site dangerous as threats of violent suppression of their views, including rape, have now become a common response.
Recently, critically acclaimed film-maker Anurag Kashyap filed an FIR and closed his twitter account after a BJP supporter threatened to rape his daughter. Known to be a vocal critic of the BJP government, he criticised the Indian government's move of abrogating article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, before he deactivated his account. He criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the seemingly undemocratic way of making decisions and questioned the implementation without the consent of Kashmiris.
Journalist Swati Chaturvedi in her book "I am a Troll – Inside the BJP's Secret Digital Army" explained that "The more high profile the victims are, the worse the abuse gets with women often facing the brunt. Apart from rape threats, the anonymous swarm often send sexually explicit messages such as images of pubic hair to women with vulgar messages attached to it," she wrote.