Disciples Of Goebbels

Mon Apr 01 2024
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Faisal Ahmad

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In this era of speedy flow of information, growing reliance of humans on cyber means is providing a combination of facilities and risks. Enhanced outreach to target audience is an irresistible luxury. But this luxury has a cost on social media platforms. Who can deny the vulnerability of an ordinary user to millions of the other consumers spread across the globe? Invisibility or anonymity of a particular user or any group on digital platforms provides ample space to the evil-minded exploiters. Enormous expansion of social media platforms is posing multi-dimensional threats ranging from financial scams, hacking, theft of data, trolling and agenda driven influencing.

Trolling phenomenon emerged exponentially with beyond the borders outreach of online platforms. Untraceable penetration of a harmful operator in the digital space of any individual or state department is no more restricted to the conventional pilferage of data or information. Over a period of trolling tendency has turned uglier as the unaware consumers are more vulnerable to the serious risks namely harassment, blackmailing, exploitation, body shaming, societal marginalization and derogatory remarks mounting psychological pressures. Famous author and literature professor at Mercer university Whitney Philip said “Trolls are portrayed as aberrational and antithetical to how normal people converse with each other. And that could not be further from the truth”. Issue of trolling has inflated adversely with the arrival of politically or religiously motivated cults on digital domains.

Pakistan, Mercer university, Cyber, RSS, BJP, Trump, Muslim,

Numerous instances of trolling reported on credible international media during a decade reflect planned targeting of celebrities, political leaders, religious figures and marginalized communities of the society. Cults influenced with religio-political ideologies have now taken a significant lead over psychologically compromised trolls. Agenda driven trolls usually generate collective trolling activities against the target which might be a person, group or any state institution. Deep penetration power and influencing capacity of shadowy social media operators was pointed out after victory of Trump in American Presidential elections. US institutions categorically alleged Russia and Iran for online meddling and data manipulations to influence the electoral results. Another worst form of extremist cult-based trolling reared its head in India. Hindutva driven ultra-right trolls of RSS and BJP used the social media platform blatantly against the marginalized minorities. An online auction of prominent Muslim women was held using their photographs.  Murder and gang rape threats were thrown on social media to harass the victim females. Heavy flow of trolling with religiously driven hatred paved way to the fields of   Indian sports. Indian right-wing trolls set their cross-hair on international cricketer Shami after losing final of Champions Trophy against Pakistan six years back.

Shami, an Indian by birth and member of national team, was called ‘traitor’ and alleged for intentional poor bowling to benefit the opponent Pakistani team. RSS affiliated trolls threatened to rape and murder the wife and daughter of poor Shami who was specifically singled out only for being a Muslim. What transpired in Pakistan on account of social media trolling is quite serious and worrisome for saner quarters. Political manipulators have learned to convert the trolling in a sharpened weapon against the rival forces. Dark shadows of politicized social media campaigning have contributed in thickening the clouds of uncertainty in the society. Blind affiliation with any political party or its leader has vast potential to compromise the independent decision-making process. Aggressive social media campaigns knitted with the false narratives eventually expedited the process of economic decline in post no confidence motion scenario. Sympathizers of former ruling party opted to settle the score of political defeat on social media platform. Though, troll tendency remained successful in creating temporary short span impacts, but in the longer run such unwise acts contributed towards polarization, intolerance and deviation from real public issues. Ironically, major political groups or stake holders apparently lack the will to drop the malicious idea of deploying the shadowy key board warriors against each other. Severity of the issue can be understood with the unearthed details of malicious trolling campaigns launched against judiciary, armed forces, LEAs and media persons.

Trolls have virtually made the state institutions hostage.  With the trolls in lead, culture of political dialogue and constructive criticism is vanishing from society. Many credible journalists have refrained from expressing their opinion primarily due to cult mentality of trolls towards any genuine criticism on their party or leader. Unaware of logical debate, trolls fire the barrage of fabricated stuff with excessive use of abusive language to mitigate any kind of difference of opinion. Hitler’s infamous chief propagandist Joseph Goebbels once said “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success until one fundamental principle is born in mind constantly -It must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over”. Present day disciples of Goebbels, the social media trolls, are neither confine themselves to few points nor they are short of abuses. Endless repetition of fabricated rhetoric is nothing but the end of decency and death of logic in political discourse. Thanks to the disciples of Goebbels!

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