Bhavjit Singh: We Started Tractor 2 Twitter To Fight Disinformation And We Will Not Stop
Our account is up running again today, and we thank everyone for supporting us, but what about tomorrow?
February 1, 2021 | 2.5 min. read
We started Tractor 2 Twitter at the onset of #DelhiChalo, back in November 2020.
Our mission was simple - farmers need to be online in order to counter the disinformation that was being leveled against them from pro-government sources.
We know how powerful Twitter is. It is where journalists, elected officials, and other important decision-makers are. The ability to share our story from the ground was always a missing perspective, and if the mainstream media was not going to give us space we would create our own.
Our handle went viral right away. It was seen as an unprecedented citizen-driven moment in the fight against the BJP IT Cell and others. Here were a bunch of farmers going online, extending the fight from the fields and streets to the digital world.
We have grown significantly since then, closing in on 50,000 followers and launching multiple trending hashtags over the last 2 months or so.
So it does not surprise us that the Modi government is threatened by us, and others like us. So threatened that they had Twitter withhold our accounts in a brazen attempt to criminalize dissent.
If they think they can intimidate or silence us like this, then they have no idea what our resolve is really like.
This is life and death for our people. We will not stop fighting.
Propaganda, fake news, Godi media - all these things have hollowed out the free press, what should otherwise be a key pillar of any democracy. While we are not a media group or journalists, we understand the role we play in sharing the truth to not only people across India but also the world.
We have seen hashtags, accounts, and content that target Sikhs, minorities, farmers, and others spread without any state checks. In fact, often, this content against our people have been supported by those associated with the state. We have seen our people maligned and demonized without any hesitation - something that the Modi government allows freely. However, it says a lot when it is the voice of farmers which is a concern to authorities and requires a crackdown.
I expect this type of behaviour from the BJP government, but I truly did not expect Twitter to follow through on the dictatorial demands to shut us down.
Our account is up running again today, and we thank everyone for supporting us, but what about tomorrow? The culture of oppression is still there. The culture of fear is still there. The culture that repressed the freedom of speech is still there. And, to be honest, this oppression started online today but will extend to our households tomorrow.
The farmers’ protest has been the first large-scale challenge to this government. Our victory is critical, not just for farmers but for all Indians from all walks of life. That is what we are fighting for, and will continue to fight for with your support - regardless of the attempts to censor our voices in what should be the world’s largest democracy.
Bhavjit Singh is the founder of Tractor 2 Twitter. You can find them on Twitter at @Tractor2twitr.
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