Thirumavalavan, Manushyaputhiran, Meena Kandasamy and Kavinmalar at the receiving end

On one hand, it expanded the scope for debate, otherwise impossible in mainstream media, on any subject under the sun. On the other, trolling on online political forum is hitting an unprecedented low at times of flashpoints like the recent death of the Dalit youth E. Ilavarasan.

Everything seems to be a fair game - from targeting the commentator’s disability to even sexually-provocative innuendoes. Hate campaigners, often under the cloak of anonymity or inventing provocative online aliases, are leaving no stone unturned while commenting on social networks.

Though activists and commentators usually have a thick skin to criticism, the more personal and tasteless comments eventually gets on their nerve.

VCK leader Thol. Thirumavalavan, writers Manushyaputhiran and Meena Kandasamy and journalist/activist Kavinmalar are among those who are at the receiving end.

“I have been advocating against any form of censorship and surveillance in the social media and even argued in favour of dispensing with section 66 A (Punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service, etc) of the Information Technology Act. But, the dangers hiding in the freedom may, one day, will completely undermine the freedom itself,” says Mr. Manushyaputhiran.

While appreciating criticism of his political leanings and ideology, he says slander or harsh remarks about his physical disabilities were nothing but “blackmail journalism.”

“Critics have opened an account in the name of Sompadi Chitthar dedicated to vilify me. The account holder claims to be a supporter of the ruling AIADMK and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa,” said Mr. Manushyaputhiran, who is under severe attack after he participated in the 90th birthday celebration of DMK leader M. Karunanidhi.

Recently, he and Kavinmalar faced the wrath of a person by name Kishore Ksamy for taking a position in support of the Dalit youth Ilavarasan.

“I am ready for a debate on my political conviction. But sexual innuendoes, making liberal use of unprintable words at that, have become a major weapon in the hands of my critics. Though I have filed complaints with the police with the address and photograph of the person, no action has been taken so far,” said Ms. Kavinmalar.

Mr. Thirumavalavan said the police had always showed indifference to such complaints about slandering on the social media network.

“An image showing me crushed under the heels made rounds on Facebook months ago, when emotions were boiling over in the State on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue and when I was still part of the Congress-led UPA — the critics were thus showing their contempt for me. A complaint on my behalf was made. But the police did not respond,” he said.

According to Additional Commissioner of Police (Central Crime Branch) R.S. Nallasivam, firm action was being taken on complaints of abuse on social network sites.

“If the accused is within our operational jurisdiction, we summon and warn him/her. In a majority of cases, the accused turned out to be friends or relatives of the victims … subsequently such complaints were withdrawn following a compromise between both parties,” he said.

He said users should exercise caution before accepting friend requests from strangers. Proliferation of smart phones makes it even easier for the pervert. Hackers remain proactive and are trying to be a step ahead of the law enforcing agency, he said.

Meanwhile Commissioner of Police S. George convened a meeting of senior police officials on Saturday to discuss the features of the new website and management of Facebook account of the Chennai Police.

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