For decades, traditional media companies have been speaking down to people in an unending stream of one-way communication. And when, thanks to social media, people are speaking back, they’re suddenly out of their depths.
India Today’s official Twitter handle is blocking users who call Rajdeep Sardesai, its 9 pm anchor, a “dalal”. A dalal, of course, is Hindi for a broker, and Rajdeep has earned the sobriquet for appearing to favour one party over another for most of his journalistic career. But call him a dalal on Twitter, and the India Today group responds with a stern message. “The India Today Group social media caters to a cross-section of audiences who find your language offensive & unparliamentarily. Therefore, we are blocking your handle. As a leader, it’s our duty to keep the platform safe for constructive conversation & dissent with decency,” the handle writes. The handle was responding to a person who’d called Rajdeep Sardesai a dalal, and asked him what was for “fakery” tonight.
Hilariously, India Today has managed to misspell the word “unparliamentary” in its copy-paste message, and is now admonishing all users who call Rajdeep Sardesai a dalal by calling their language “unparliamentarily.” And it seems that it isn’t just the word dalal that triggers India Today — the media company also sent the same message to another user who’d said he wouldn’t call Rajdeep Sardesai a dalal, but instead called him a certified pimp of “Archbishop Purie.”
India Today also seems to be reading Rajdeep’s mentions, and also blocked a person who’d responded to Sardesai’s tweet with the same elaborate message.
Rajdeep Sardesai, of course, has been in the eye of a storm over the last few weeks. On Republic Day, Sardesai had claimed on live TV that a farmer protester had been shot dead by Delhi Police. He’d also sent out a tweet with the same information, and said that farmers were refusing to move the body until they got justice.
This had the potential to inflame the already tense situation in Delhi, and it was later proven that Sardesai had been completely wrong. CCTV footage had shown that the farmer in question had died after he had crashed his tractor into a barricade, and the tractor had overturned. After Sardesai’s fake news was caught, he was suspended by India Today for a month, and had his pay docked as well.
But as Rajdeep has returned to TV screens after his suspension was over, users who have been making their displeasure known through social media are finding themselves blocked by India Today. India Today is no stranger to blocking accounts which question its journalism — last October, it had blocked several prominent accounts for criticizing its Hathras coverage. And with the company now officially blocking accounts that call Rajdeep Sardesai a dalal, it appears that India Today is in no mood to listen to the — admittedly abrasive — feedback that its viewers might have.