Earlier this morning I was watching India Today report on the India-China clash at the LAC. During the entire course of the stand-off, the news channel was relying on maps and data from open source intelligence to accurately show the events transpiring at the flash points. This morning relying on high resolution images taken by Planet Labs, India Today today was reporting on what China is upto at the LAC.
Satellite images taken of June 16, 2020 i.e, yesterday show the presence of 200 Chinese armoured vehicles and troop buildup on the Chinese side of the LAC. This was in clear violation of the agreement reached after the military talks on June 6. When an Indian patrolling party was sent to check on the Chinese disengagement as agreed upon, the Indian troops found Chinese troops still camped at Patrol Point 14 in the Galwan Valley.
As I was listening to the broadcast my mind reflected on the words spoken by noted strategic analyst Brahma Chellaney. He has been stating for weeks that the Chinese will use the process of de-escalation to strengthen their positions. The pictures shown today by India Today and the situation at Pangong Tso vindicate him.
I wanted to post my thoughts on it. Thus, I tweeted that Mr. Chellaney had been stating for almost a month what the reporters of India Today are reporting today. The point he put forth that the Chinese will try to strengthen their positions under the guise of de-escalation. The pictures broadcast today morning vindicate him.
Usually, when I post on Twitter I can see the ‘new tweets’ push notification pop-up on my screen. When I click on it and see the latest posts on my tweets too appear on the feed. However, this morning when I posted my tweet on China strengthening their positions as predicted by Mr. Chellaney; I did not find my tweet in the feed.
So, I went to my profile to check out my latest tweets. I did not find it there either. So, I tweeted my post again. I did not find it on the feed nor on my profile. So I mentioned Twitter in my next tweet asking them why my tweets were not featured in the feed. As my repeated tweets were not featuring in the feed, I shared my experience on Facebook.
After I shared my experience, I went back to tweet again on the topic. This time while my tweet was found on the feed, I could not find my tweet on it.
Looking at it in a chronological order, my last activity before tweeting on the India- China face-off was a retweet. The time stamp of the tweet places it at 1:05 pm.
This is the last tweet that was shown on my profile. After two failed attempts at posting my tweet in concurrence with the views of Brahma Chellaney on the stand-off at LAC, I tried for a third time. This was after firing off a tweet mentioning Twitter and a post on Facebook.
This tweet is time stamped at 1:24 pm. So the latest tweet that should be shown under tweets on my profile should be this tweet. Four hours have passed since but the first tweet that can be viewed is the following.
So what happened to my earlier tweets? I started to search. There were a few questions that were on the top of my mind. Where did those tweets of mine go? Where did those tweets of mine go! I began to doubt whether they were deleted or hidden. In the recent past, there have been instances where many users found their tweets disappear, followers count reduced despite increasing numbers and reach of their tweets being reduced as followers could not read them.
I asked myself whether I too was being shadow banned. That is when I clicked on the tweets and replies link on my screen. There was a very subtle difference ‘tweets’ and ‘tweets and replies’. The three tweets that went missing. The three tweets visible to no one apart from me. The three tweets for whom I tried digging a lot. These three tweets are not found under tweets which is a reflection of my direct activity.
Hidden away from the world unless a person is looking too deep into the account or stalking an account, these might not have reached any audience. I came across few other instances in the day where tweets and retweets of people disappeared while commenting on a particular issue.
In the first instance the retweets of tweets from that handle on the India-China standoff disappeared.
The second instance I have come across is even verified handles are being censored for tweets on China.
On may platforms information and application platforms saw the removal of anti- China reviews and applications. YouTube, Google Play Store have made the headlines recently. Twitter has been garnering a reputation for being a politically biased entity in many countries across the world. This censorship of content on China, speculation on its strategy in the media and comments on the latest skirmish in the Galwan Valley only adds to that reputation.
What do I achieve from writing on it? Nothing. Twitter will not mend its ways. The selective censorship on media platforms at the behest of China will continue. The shadow banning of accounts not in accordance with political ideology echoed by the firm will continue. Users will continue to tweet that on their accounts. So what is the purpose of this article?
It is about taking a stand. Despite knowing that the reach of certain forms of information will be restricted, people will try to put that out. It is time to make people aware how the shadow banning and selective censorship is propagated. It is all about sharing the information to more number of people. And leave it to them on how they respond to it.