Delhi Journalists Body Condemns Relentless Trolling of Rana Ayyub

"We are concerned at the alarming spread of fake news to defame individuals and communities and incite violence. Fake news challenges the credibility of media and undermines its role," the release says.

New Delhi: In a press release, the gender council of the Delhi Union of Journalists has condemned the relentless trolling of investigative reporter Rana Ayyub.

Concerned about the growing number of sexist attacks on women journalists, “who are being singled out for intimidation and harassment”, DUJ has demanded that the complaint filed by Ayyub with the Delhi cyber crime cell be looked into at the earliest.

Ayyub, the author of the book The Gujarat Files, which takes a deep dive into the 2002 Gujarat riots, had been in the capital on April 22 to accept an award for the Outlook Social Media Youth Icon of The Year. It was only then that that she was alerted to the fact that a Twitter handle which mimicked the handle of a prominent TV channel, had attributed a comment to her that she never made.

The tweet reportedly said:

Minor child rapists are also human, do they have no human rights. This Hindutva Government is bringing ordinance for death to child rapists just to hang muslims in larger numbers. Muslims aren’t safe in India anymore”.

Ayyub is no stranger to trolling on social media. Nearly every post of hers on Twitter is greeted with hate-filled messages, directed at her for her work, for being a woman, and for her religion.

“First, get her gang-raped, then ask her what punishment is OK for rapist,” one user allegedly said.

Not just that, as the trolling in reaction to the fake tweet continued, an obscene video with her face edited into made its way online. This started a whole new barrage of slut shaming and sexist comments.

Ayyub told Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that she received three-minute long pornographic videos of her face morphed onto “bodies of naked women” in her Facebook inbox and via Twitter on April 23. Trolls then took to social media to tell her to “leave journalism because prostitution is your cup of tea”.

“Look, Rana Ayyub, what they’ve spread about you. Don’t ever dare to speak about Hindus and Modi again,” a Facebook user wrote, reported DailyO.

Ayyub, accompanied by Vrinda Grover, then filed a criminal complaint at the Saket police station. There, she was reportedly asked “why she did not file the complaint at a police station in the area in which she first saw the fake tweet”.

DUJ has also called upon Twitter to “refine its tools and immediately act to stop such serious abuse of the platform”. It also directs its ire at fake news, which in the internet age, has become part and parcel of our lives.

“We condemn the misuse of social media by organised trolls and mischief makers of all political persuasions. We are concerned at the alarming spread of fake news to defame individuals and communities and incite violence. Fake news challenges the credibility of media and undermines its role. Twitter, Facebook and other platforms must also weed out and block violent threats, pornographic content and open abuse online. They must accept responsibility for the rampant abuse of their platforms and immediately act to curb content that intimidates people from exercising the freedom of speech online,” the release says.

“I’ve been trolled before, but I have never faced anything like this. I don’t know what else I have to fear after this. There are marches when people are killed. I’m repeatedly telling the state that I’m under attack and I fear for my safety. Will they take action only after something happens,” Ayyub said.