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Twitter India Denies Discriminating Against Users After Facing Accusations of Caste Bias

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Twitter, Facebook  - Sputnik International
New Delhi (Sputnik): Twitter India is drawing criticism from people belonging to socially disadvantaged strata, defined by the caste system. “Untouchables” or, “Dalits” claim that the micro-blogging site’s “Blue-tick” feature discriminates against users on the basis of caste.

A day after some Indians started a massive campaign accusing Twitter of being caste biased, Twitter India on Thursday, claimed it is an "impartial" platform and does not take actions based on ideologies or political viewpoints.

"There's been a lot of discussions this week about Twitter's perceived bias in India. To be clear, whether it's the development of policies, product features or the enforcement of our rules, we are impartial and do not take any action based on ideology or political viewpoint," Twitter India said.

The controversy started after Indian columnist Dilip Mandal's account was restricted briefly. He blamed Twitter for not verifying profiles of esteemed personalities belonging to the "oppressed" castes despite them having a significant following on the social media platform.

The columnist launched a campaign against the site and was soon joined by many others tweeting under #CasteistTwitter, #JaiBhimTwitter and #cancelallBlueTicksinIndia demanding uniform rules.

The online campaigning has been going on since early November. Indian Supreme Court lawyer Nitin Meshram summarised the arguments:

"What is our grievance: #Twitter India is discriminating against Sc-St-OBC activists in suspending & verifying their accounts. He further said: "Twitter lacks uniform rules & therefore, #CasteistTwitter suppress Dalit, OBC, & Tribal activists by unequal reference to its rules", adding that "without @verified badge, Dalit, OBC, & Tribals are not authentic in a digital world. They are vulnerable to fake, fraud, & clone accounts." He also alleged that "all stalwarts of Dalits, OBCs, & Tribals are denied @verified badge, whereas, pigmies of other castes have been adorned with blue tick". 

Twitter India denied the allegations, saying it has "one set of Twitter rules". "… and we enforce our policies judiciously and impartially for all individuals - regardless of their belief or background. Every tweet and every account that is brought to our attention is reviewed on its own merit."

The momentum of the campaign picked up when the Twitterati brought up the example of the name of Indian Home Minister Amit Shah's son having a verified account despite having only 27 followers. The netizens since then are demanding that Twitter disclose its criteria for verifying a profile through a "blue tick".

Last year, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sparked a controversy on social media after a picture of him holding a poster saying "smash Brahminical patriarchy", went viral.

Brahmins feature on top of the Hindu caste hierarchy in India. The Caste system is an ancient Indian phenomenon which places people in a hierarchy defining their social precedence. Dalits or, the "untouchables" fall in the lowest strata and are considered "impure" by many. 

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