Mangalore, Mar 5 : The prompt arrest of Shriram Yadapaditthaya for posting hate messages against a partcular religion on Facebook has opened up a heated debate among netizens, especially in social networking sites.
Shriram, a techie from Shivamogga staying in Bengaluru, was arrested after a complaint was filed against him for making derogatory comments against Christianity on Daijiworld's Facebook page.
The incident should serve as an eye-opener for online users. Quite a few people have taken freedom of speech, especially on social media, for granted, many have gotten away due to lack of evidence, and lack of courage in filing complaints, or delay in doing so.
Daijiworld's Facebook page has about 80,000 followers from all around the world and dozens of news links from the website are posted every day. The moderators do not discriminate on religion or subject when posting the news links. Over the years we have faced a huge number of abuses from various corners, and do so even now. The best thing we have done is to simply ignore and not react at all, and move on with our mission of providing unbiased news. We welcome constructive criticism and use it to make ourselves better, and when we go wrong, we take a lesson from it and rectify our errors.
But this time, filthy language used by Facebook user Shriram inflicted pain on a section of the community, and the matter assumed serious proportions. Though we were quick to delete some of the comments from the page as soon as we received complaints from readers and Facebook users, the comments were already seen by many, and screenshots began to be widely circulated through WhatsApp and other social media.
I have personally been one of the biggest victims of online abuse ever since daijiworld.com was incorporated. I have experienced every kind of abusive language, and quite a few times, reacted too with anger. But over the years, I have learnt to take these abuses in my stride and not to react spontaneously. Not only online, abuses have come my way over the phone and even face-to-face. It is not so easy to be mute all the time, for after all, we are humans and have our moments of weakness.
There is always a difference in ideologies, which is evident from discussions related to politics. But when it comes to religion or an individual, one has to be very careful in selecting the words while conveying the message.
Religion has been the most sensitive issue in current journalism, and any hate message against any particular community has become difficult to bear with, as there are several groups spread over in each religion. Most of the time, personal abuse hurts a lot. There has been much debate over free speech these days, but one needs to remember that while healthy debates are always welcome, using cuss words and abusive language is totally unacceptable on open platforms that are easily accessible to children.
It was perhaps very easy for anyone to send out hate messages until the IT Act came into existence. Under the IT Act, not only the users, even online publications like us are liable for posting abusive or hate comments. And yes, we have faced such situations a few times in the past, and are fighting a legal battle even now.
If you think that sending emails or posting malicious comments on websites under a false name is safer, you are wrong. Today the technology can trace you anywhere, and no matter under what name you send comments, you can be tracked to the very device you used for it.
Those who find pleasure in sending abusive messages through various platforms and devices, please take note. The arrest of Shriram is an ample example of how our authorities and law can catch you in no time.
One must salute S Murugan, the police commissioner of Mangaluru city for taking serious note of the case and arresting the accused in less than 48 hours.
Since Shriram has publicly apologised in his Facebook post for his misadventurous hate messages, one may assume that he has realized his mistake. Of course, law will take its own course, but I suggest, let us forgive him and treat this incident as a lesson for those who enjoy abusing others online, on phone or face-to-face.
Here's a small revelation: During investigation into Shriram's case, we were told by the authorities not to delete comments from Facebook the next time such an incident occurs, no matter how abusive the comments may be. We were instead told to save copies of the abusive comments as evidence for future use. Hence, please think twice when you post comments both on Facebook and on our website, because if need arises, we will be obliged to cooperate with the police.
This is a special request to the readers of Daijiworld.com - please be careful while selecting your words when posting comments to articles. A number of comments go unpublished due to abusive words and personal attacks on others, but please remember that you would be writing abusive comments at your own risk. Let us keep this space clean, open and comfortable for all. If anyone finds abusive content in the published comments, please notify us with 'Report abuse' option, and help us keep this platform clean.