Twitter India launched its latest effort to curb online harassment on Thursday (June 29).

Centre for Social Research and Twitter collaborated to create #TweeSurfing. Tweesurfing.in is a Twitter Literacy program designed to spread knowledge on how to use the platform for better purposes.

The goal of the programme is to create a culture of positive gender-sensitive and safe environment on Twitter, by promoting use of counter speech, sensitive campaigns and listing user-driven best practices.

A host of comedians and rights activists collaborated with Twitter to create the platform, and they were present at Twitter’s Blue Room in Mumbai for the program’s launch.

Comedians Rohan Joshi, Sorabh Pant and Kaneez Surkha spoke about how they deal with online trolls.

Rohan Joshi said that the metric he uses is that of harm. If the person is saying something with the explicit intention of harming someone, be it emotionally or physically, then action has to be taken, he said.

Sorabh Pant that anything which is a threat is horrible. He said the fact that the organisation, which employed the person who threatened journalist Rana Ayyub, fired him was a great precedent and should be followed in India.

Adding to this, Kaneez Surkha recounted her own experiences with people trolling her. Someone wrote to me saying “you are a whore”, she says. She got really upset, found out which college he goes to and even emailed his dean. But she didn’t get a response from the college. The boy even blocked her and changed his college on Facebook.

“A lot of us disassociate with what is real, when online,” added Pant.

“We have a problem with cultural conversation in the country. Boys are trained to talk a certain way, and so are girls. This goes beyond Twitter. Blocking is one thing but the person will go out in real life and use the same tenor in real conversation,” said Joshi. 

LGBTQ activist Harish Iyer and SheSays founder Trisha Shetty also spoke about how social media can be used to spread awareness and combat a lot of negativity.

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