Award-winning journalist Nidhi Razdan, formerly with NDTV, took to social media on Friday to share that she had been the victim of an unfortunate phishing scam. In June 2020, Razdan had announced she would be quitting broadcast channel NDTV after a 21-year stint to head to the prestigious Harvard University as an Associate Professor. However, in the statement shared today, the journalist says she was made the target of a “sophisticated and coordinated phishing attack.” It is believed that the perpetrators could have gained access to her private information, leading Razdan to file an official complaint with the police.
Phishing scams, given the increased spread of the online network, are commonplace and for anyone to fall for them is undeniably tragic. But where most people have the privilege to grieve privately, Razdan is having to go through a lived experience of it all, both in reality as well as on social media. Overlooking the upsetting effort it must have taken for Razdan to share her ordeal on social media, the troll army has swooped down on her to painfully pick at the leftovers in a bid to embarrass her further. While some are calling for sensitivity, others have raised pertinent questions as to the circumstances surrounding the incident. Read more on that here.
I have been the victim of a very serious phishing attack. I’m putting this statement out to set the record straight about what I’ve been through. I will not be addressing this issue any further on social media. pic.twitter.com/bttnnlLjuh
— Nidhi Razdan (@Nidhi) January 15, 2021
This context brings notice to a deeply concerning state of affairs that is iterated and reiterated each day online: Is social media robbing us of our capacity for the basic facilities of empathy? Does ideology dictate our value systems so much so that we are remorseless in the face of a supposed mishap?
Razdan’s statement seems to communicate that she is neither seeking pity nor expecting netizens to be remorseful over her situation. Her statement was perhaps only an attempt to clear the air and avoid undue speculation. Is that not deserving of some sobriety in place of meme attacks?
Are Journalists Becoming Soft Targets Of Data Breach?
What’s perhaps more alarming – especially in the thick of chatter around privacy breach and data encroachment by tech giants like WhatsApp – is that journalists seem to repeatedly be coming under attack. The intensity of the crime, as per Razdan’s statement, seems massive and dangerous, with possibly a ton of personal data compromised. As fate would have it, earlier in the day we also reported that Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami’s private chats too were leaked.
While support for both Razdan and Goswami comes from polar corners of the audience, it is worth questioning: Is it justified for journalists – regardless of their respective journalistic styles – to be maimed by encroachment of privacy that is then played out in full public view on the social media circus?
Some are arguing that journalists, as upholders of democracy, are relied on for their fact-checking abilities and astute observation powers, both part of a basic skill set needed for responsible reporting. How then did Razdan, with years of journalism behind her, fall for such a scam? Shouldn’t she have known better? Meanwhile, others have pointedly noted that there are some glaring loopholes in the entire situation. So must her journalistic prowess be put to trial? Yet others are of the opinion that this incident, though tragic, mustn’t be treated with derision but alertness. That it should act as a learning curve, on various fronts, for everyone.
Here is a mix of reactions to Nidhi Razdan’s phishing attack on social media:
Everyone mocking Nidhi right now is just showing how petty they are as people. She's found herself in a tough spot, is squarely facing the situation and has to rebuild now. The least she deserves is support.
— meetasengupta (@Meetasengupta) January 15, 2021
Hahahaha, so @Nidhi was NEVER offered a job by Harvard? Good, my respect for @Harvard has somewhat been restored. Also, what kind of a person falls for scams like these and lands up in the US with a fake job offer? pic.twitter.com/TiVe5PSxwx
— Shefali Vaidya. (@ShefVaidya) January 15, 2021
Shocked and appalled at the phishing that targeted @Nidhi and cost her so much.
To others: if you celebrate an injustice because you think it "serves her right", watch out because tomorrow the same injustice will affect those you like or love. Oppose injustice no matter what.
— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) January 16, 2021
— Ishita Yadav (@IshitaYadav) January 15, 2021
Stunned by the sophistication, and deep penetration of this phishing attack. Such professionalism points the needle of suspicion to somebody with deep pockets and extensice resources.
— SonaliRanade (@sonaliranade) January 15, 2021
Without even cross checking with the university, she chucks her job, packs her bags & moves to another continent!!
This is beyond hilarious!!🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/m1xtgCNTKg
— Priti Gandhi – प्रीति गांधी (@MrsGandhi) January 15, 2021
I am not being able to comprehend this!
Nidhi Razdan, a journalist, says that she left her job with NDTV after 21 years without properly checking with Harvard University and many months later, realised that it was a phishing attack.
Harvard never really offered her a job.
— Soumyadipta (@Soumyadipta) January 15, 2021
Props to Nidhi Razdan for admitting she fell for what was clearly a long con. By opening herself up to being mocked and ridiculed, she’s helped everyone be a little more alert and wary of being scammed. She didn’t need to do anything of the sort.
— Deepanjana (@dpanjana) January 15, 2021
Views expressed are the author’s own.