After last 2-3 nights of writing that blog post, was thinking that would be taking nice and easy for a while. But unfortunately, events have a habit overtaking the best of plans. Hopefully, it won’t be too long. It all started innocently enough. A gentleman, a Senior advocate who advocates in the Supreme Court, Dr. Sanjay Hegde had the following cover on his twitter account/handle.
Now, the photograph is about a gentleman called August Landmesser, a german national who according to Wikipedia was imprisoned, eventually drafted into penal military service and eventually killed in action according to Wikipedia . This erupted as a row in twitter as the gentleman while known for his anti-establishment views has been in all aspects a gentleman on twitter. His twitter account was suspended under the view of ‘hateful imagery’ . While one could argue that it was done right, but he was not only the only one, over the last several days, lot of people on the left-side of the spectrum, sane voices have been suspended while some twitters even after giving rape or death threats on twitter from the right, no action has been taken.
So two things happened, while Advocate Hegde was reinstated over the hue and cry, he put the cover back up and was again suspended and now has served a notice to Twitter Inc. where the senior counsel is being represented by Mr. Panjal Kishore. While I don’t want to get into the legal notice itself, I would say it makes for some pretty interesting reading and makes some very valid points. The poem of poet Gorakh Pandey in its english translation provides icing on the cake. The counsel representing Dr. Hegde also points to constitutional law and previous judgements as well as references Alexander Meiklejohn and some of the statements he made in his work ‘Political Freedom’ . The notice also reminds about Article 19 (1) (a) which ensures each person the right to free speech while restraining the Govt. The gentleman also goes on to talk about censorship and its practise and asks the courts to direct twitter Inc. to unblock him while at the same time issue some guidelines which follow both in spirit and form what Article 19 was all about.
While one could argue about the merits of the case either way, it at least to my knowledge is one of the very rare detailed notice against a social media company talking about social liberties in such a manner. I, unreservadly support the notice because the notice is about democracy and ensuring voices, even of those with whom you might agree or disagree. How serious does the Supreme Court take this and what sort of action or inaction will the Govt. take will tell where the Government is heading. There are some people who feel the judiciary is under influence of the current regime but there are still others like Dr. Hegde who still seek to challenge it. If anything, have to give him points for fighting the good fight.
Movement from Twitter to mastodon
Because of the hue and cry, quite a bit of people have started moving from twitter to mastodon. People, by default don’t like toxic situations. People enjoy constructive criticism and different ways of looking at things but don’t enjoy death threats etc. from anonymous handles which had been happening. So what started with a small wave is steadily turning into a stream, people are moving from twitter to mastadon. While I’m sort of have been on mastadon for quite sometime, it was nice to see an influx of lot of reporters, journalists, constitutional lawyers, techies as well as well as just social media junkies turning to mastadon.social and other masto related sites.
The altnews founder Pratik Sinha made a thread on twitter where he asked people to ask questions. While, many of the questions were easy, many of them were also thought-provoking. For instance, the idea that couldn’t a federated system be gamed. While I don’t see how, I have enough faith in human ingenuinity to concede that any system can be gamed. We know that all and any software will have bugs and security issues. Add to that lot of such new media may use either derivatives or patches to library or libraries which have not been tested enough on security or tested in variety of combinations. But this is not a new issue but an age-old issue. I did share mastadon issue tracker . There were lot of conspirancy theories, some real, some fanciful and some portending how the rich and powerful could take over. All of which are possible, I had to admit. I did enjoy sharing https://instances.social/ which helps people in choosing instances. One of the big changes which I wasn’t aware of but became aware of due to somebody named Neha was that now it’s possible to export identities, followers, blocks from one instance to another. This at least, IMHO is a big boost to the features and ability in improvement in the federated structures. Of course, the more functionality we have, the more we want 😉 . Somebody also shared a cross-posting utility but seems to only work with mastodon and not any of it derivatives, at least not the network I’m on atm. I also came to know of another mastodon instance where a single toot can be of 1111 letters. For people asking about the cons, the biggest might be security. For instance, if I were to use the cross-posting uility and somehow it is breached, then possibility of two accounts is possible, not just one. Something to consider. Still though, all in all, a very productive evening 🙂
Update 10/11/19 – The exodus which was a sliver is has turned into a stream. First BBC reported it, then bloombergquint, News18, even the chinese picked it up as well as theprint, mumbai mirror which is part of the times group as well as moneycontrol and outlookbusiness . If you read most of the mainstream press you will see that most of them gave a sort of left-handed compliment which is not surprising. Many of them don’t understand the medium and almost all have a vested interest as they are present on twitter and their business-models is based on twitter. So, perhaps to expect them to give a kind word would perhaps be expecting a bit too much.
Some quotations or interesting comments from users and the creator
There were also some interesting comments from users as to why they moved to mastodon and they were varied a bit. For e.g.
As a media researcher, I find it amazing how new digital platforms have been shaped by a crisis of credibility. Birdsite really exploded after the Radia Tapes and its subsequent blackout by mainstream media. A crisis in the credibility of Twitter foced us to switch to Mastodon. This is important in itself because a lot of people thought that Twitter and Facebook have become the final pillers of social media and are no longer replaceable.Garvit Garg https://mstdn.social/@gsquare/103102398088042940
Let’s get something clear…The exodus from Twitter is not because of Trolls. Those were easily handled. The problem was that Twitter was being paid by the Govt to turn a blind eye to the radicalisation of the Majority community.The exodus is not in fear but in disgust.Comrade Nambiar https://mastodon.social/@Dasbolshevik/103102244771101873
And finally from the creator of the software Mastodon who had to figure out how to deal with all the new traffic which was coming in –
It’s now up to 18.8K new users this week. For reference, growth was about 1K per week for a long time.Eugen https://mastodon.social/@Gargron/103104365797087977
There are of course many other aspects of fediverse and mastodon that we may explore as time passes by. Till later.