Twitter CEO Dorsey unleashes ‘hate speech’ storm with sign denouncing India’s caste system
Dorsey posed for a picture with six women in India brandishing a poster that read “Smash Brahminical patriarchy” during a visit last week to discuss the role of Twitter in the country.
During Twitter CEO @jack's visit here, he & Twitter's Legal head @vijaya took part in a round table with some of us women journalists, activists, writers & @TwitterIndia's @amritat to discuss the Twitter experience in India. A very insightful, no-words-minced conversation 😊 pic.twitter.com/LqtJQEABgV— Anna MM Vetticad (@annavetticad) November 18, 2018
After the photo was posted on the social media platform on Sunday evening, Dorsey was quickly accused of inciting hatred and violence against Hindu nationalists and India’s Brahmins, the highest group who sit atop the rigid caste hierarchy.
Woke up Tuesday morning to see Brahmin names floating around on my TL. If Smashing Brahminical Patriarchy is not an incitement to violence, what is? An influential platform like @twitter must be responsible. @TwitterIndia— Chitra Subramaniam (@chitraSD) November 20, 2018
A policy officer for Twitter later apologised to offended users, telling them neither Twitter nor Dorsey endorsed the message that the caste system and male dominance should be dismantled, which in turn angered Indian activists who oppose the patriarchal system.
It is not a statement from Twitter or our CEO, but a tangible reflection of our company's efforts to see, hear, and understand all sides of important public conversations that happen on our service around the world.— Twitter India (@TwitterIndia) November 19, 2018
Here, I translated it for you: Someone gave our CEO a Hinduphobic poster advocating hate and violence against a religious minority, and our CEO accepted it unquestioningly and then poised for a photo with it. And we think it's totally OK. https://t.co/dB1NFHY3jS— Abhinav Agarwal (@AbhinavAgarwal) November 19, 2018
The legal director of Twitter Vijaya Gadde, who was also at the off-the-record meeting, apologised to users explaining that they were gifted the poster and the photo was intended to be “private.” Gadde acknowledged they should have “been more thoughtful”.
The logic that using an intersectional lens to address gender based violence is #hinduphobic or inciting hate against a community makes no sense. It is a distraction by #Casteist trolls to divert the conversation about #Indias casteist rape culture.#SmashBrahminicalPatriarchypic.twitter.com/X5reMTz4D0— Dalit Diva (@dalitdiva) November 20, 2018
Terribly disappointing st. on behalf of Twitter. Both Brahminism & patriarchy are oppressive by nature, so why would Twitter's views not reflect giving space to marginalized voices? Calling pandering "impartial" is just a cop out preventing actual efforts to make this space equal— Sandhya Ramesh (@sandygrains) November 20, 2018
Well said @annavetticadI wonder if there wouldve been a similar outrage abroad if the placard had said 'down with white supremacy'. Some of these outragers would even have held the placard.— Deepa Kurup (@deepakurup) November 20, 2018
The response was less than satisfactory for activists who questioned why Twitter wouldn’t endorse a message to denounce an oppressive system. The uploaders of the photo also accused Dorsey and Gadde of “throwing us under the bus to save your skin”, claiming the image was not, in fact, “private” but was captured by a Twitter rep and mailed to the group to share.
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