When the opening line of an article reads: “I'm all for free speech and against attempts to gag dissent” it’s a clear warning about what is going to follow. All the ‘Ifs and buts’ and then sound reasoning why there should be regulation and some form of censorship will start pouring. Surprisingly, in the MSM it doesn’t come from religious heads or bigots. It usually comes from news reporters and editors. The name Sanjay Pinto didn’t seem very familiar till I looked it up. Aha, this guy is from the same stable that holds the social networks in utter contempt – NDTV. Funnily enough, Pinto appears prominently in their section called ‘NDTV Social’. After all, it was originally his colleague and frustrated star Barkha Dutt, the epitome of decency and uprightness that first waged a war against bloggers and lost. Something about the social network bothers Barkha, Nidhi Razdan, Sonia Singh and now Sanjay Pinto. I am tempted to ask ‘Sanjay Pinto ko gussa kyon aata hai’ after reading his piece titled “The Social Network — Unknown abusers” in The Hindu. So let’s see what Pinto had to say.
Pinto writes: “The tenor of anonymous tweets would make even the most liberal crusaders for free speech think twice about demanding the decriminalisation of defamation. There is intolerance for ‘the other view', vulgarity and vituperation in 140 characters. There is mob psychology at play. And there is uncontrolled, apparently unmonitored rudeness on what is meant to be a wonderful platform to “find out what's happening about people and organisations you care about.” Mob Psychology? Hahaha, welcome to ‘The Family’! Of all the people on Twitter Pinto seems to be reading tweets only from the rude and vulgar ones, especially the ‘anonymous’ types. You should really be reading the feedback page of NDTV or any other channel where you can read comments from people who watch the channel are displayed. Oh, now don’t ask me where that feedback page is, because you’re not going to find it anywhere. For NDTV and Sanjay Pinto it is hard to even listen to and absorb genuine feedback or criticism so why should this guy be even bothered with rude and vulgar tweets. And where do these supposed journalists even get the right to deliver moral sermons?
The problem with these moralists is that it’s the identity that counts and not what is being said. If Shekhar Kapur were to tweet Barkha Dutt and say “Your program sucks” then that would be okay, but if an anonymous person were to say the same thing, he would be a troll. After all didn't NDTV misuse a tweet by Amitabh Bachchan to imply he rubbished Virat Kohli? (And later apologised) Still, look up Barkha’s TL on her Twitter account and you will find endless tweets of ‘Thanks’, ‘Thank you’ and so on. You are unlikely to find any response to criticism. When Prasanna Vishwanathan (@prasannavishy), a popular tweeter and respected web journalist himself, once pointed out a critical article to Barkha, she barked back: “Why don’t you and your friends go rant in your own corner”. Sagarika Ghose once responded to the same person with the remark: “You’re a gutter-snipe”. Now, I can tell you with a good deal of certitude that @prasannavishy is neither anonymous nor a troll and you will agree if you go through his tweets. Sanjay Pinto probably doesn’t read tweets from his own ‘mob’ who may be non-anonymous but are quite frequently as rude and vulgar as the ones he laments about.
And no, I really haven’t forgotten the anonymous part. Pinto seems to be unaware that if there is some serious trouble then even anonymous accounts and fake IDs can be traced and located. That, though, is not the problem here. You see, this Pinto and his mob sort of believe only those who reveal their identity have any right to comment or tweet. By this stupid logic we should also know who voted for whom in a ‘secret ballot’. Okay, that might sound silly but here’s a brilliant note on why anonymity is as much a valued possession as an identity. Tweeter @RealityCheckInd wrote this piece “Thank you from Google India” during the height of Kapil Sibal’s nonsense about pre-screening. I recommend Sanjay Pinto and all the other morons in the MSM read the piece before breast-beating about anonymous users of the social network. And Pinto forgets, it was CNN-IBN that was begging Bachchan to promote one of their programs or articles on Twitter because of his celebrity following. Naturally, of what use are anonymous idiots!
Pinto goes on: Fake profiles, especially for public figures, have become such a nuisance that genuine users are inconvenienced. For instance, the twitter ID ‘Rajdeep Sardesai' is taken. The original Rajdeep has had to create one in true Olympic-list style with ‘Sardesai Rajdeep'. Here, the nature of the tweets, scoops or programming information, are usually enough to distinguish a real celebrity from an impostor. Really? What is it about CNN-IBN’s Rajdeep Sardesai that makes him the ‘Original Rajdeep’. LOL! Did he invent the name? The @RajdeepSardesai account clearly and sarcastically mentions he is not to be confused with the RS of the Cash4Votes infamy. And by what logic does Pinto imply that the @rajdeepsardesai account is an impostor? I can guarantee there might be at least a 1000 Sanjay Pintos in India. Which is probably why even his Twitter account has an underscore to it (@sanjay_pinto). If you go through the TL of @RS you won’t find any tweet or message that remotely resembles those of the IBN Rajdeep and nor does it claim to be even a parody account. But these are the childish concerns that seem to occupy the idle minds of journos like Sanjay Pinto.
Pinto also talks about defamation. As far as I can see there are really no serious cases of defamation on the social network. People on the network aren’t stupid enough to fall for lies and frivolous comments by others, whether anonymous or identified. And defamation happens only when people seriously believe some falsehood about a person as being true. Hypothetically, if I were to call Sanjay Pinto a part-time bar dancer not only are people unlikely to believe me but I would be receiving a lot of brickbats and very scathing criticism from readers of this blog. The problem with the Pintos, Barkhas and his clan is that they do not believe that common citizens have the brains to sift the grain from the chaff.
Here is what really bothers Pinto as he writes: "In most newsrooms, Twitter is slowly overtaking even news wires as a source of information. When this medium is going to occupy such an important role in our lives, users must be entitled to higher standards of reliability and safety. For starters, let the social-media moguls work to ensure better safeguards against misuse. And let users start reading the terms of service before clicking on the ‘I Agree' button”. That is true, the MSM is really rattled that some media other than their own has now the power to influence opinions and events. If morals and righteousness were the issues Pinto would be asking Barkha, Sagarika and many others of his ‘mob’ to resign from their jobs for the immense damage they have caused to journalism. But no, like the ones named Pinto believes they are ‘God’s lonely messengers’ and their turf shouldn’t be invaded.
Friend @WordofThefree who brought Pinto’s POS to my notice also tweeted that there are Block buttons, Spam buttons, Report buttons. I believe instead of sermons, Sanjay Pinto should first learn to use those buttons. If defamation is an issue, far more cases can be piled up against the MSM media mafia than on those on Twitter or any other social media. Pinto would also do well to read my previous post and realise the MSM channels abuse Twitter far more than any other group.