Centre for Social Research, New Delhi, in collaboration with Twitter India launched its 4th chapter of TweeSurfing on 22nd September, 2018 in Kolkata after Delhi , Mumbai and Bangalore. TweeSurfing is a public education initiative that attempts to address online safety issues and spread knowledge on how individuals can express themselves, initiate conversations and engage more positively on the platform. The launch was graced by the presence of eminent speakers like Dr. Ranajana Kumari, the director of Centre for Social Research New Delhi, Harish Iyer, an Equal Rights activist, Manasi Salvi, a prominent TV actor from Mumbai, Rahul Rajkhowa, a twenty three year old singer-songwriter from Assam and Jimmy Tangree, heading Friends 91.9 FM in Kolkata, engaging people though his exceptional voice and ideas since 1994. The participation of students and other members from Kolkata in the launch was exceptional. Mahima Kaul, Director of policy in Twitter India, could not attend the event but she reached out through a short video speaking about the need to understand the tools Twitter provides its users to navigate through the platform in a secure manner and spoke about TweeSurfing interviewing 95 influencers from diverse fraternities who shared their stories of bringing about positive social change.
Dr. Ranajna Kumari initiated the discussion by throwing light on the available tools on Twitter and also the need to maintain proper cyber etiquettes on this platform. Rahul Rajkhowa spoke mainly on the rising need to have social and political debates on platforms like Twitter and how he has been doing the same to reach out to like minded people to start a discourse on what affects millions in the country. He also expressed how he has been and still continues to be a victim of death threats and other forms of harassment for putting across his opinions.Further he and other panelists spoke about crowd sourcing, how they try to get like minded people to kill negative voice with more positive ones. Rahul pointed out how fascinated he feels when he finds that even if there are some users on Twitter fighting against him, there are always others fighting for him. As rightly pointed out by the moderator for the day, Amitabh Kumar who heads the Media and Communication department, Rahul is a rebel with a cause.
Mansi Salvi shared with everyone how she uses Twitter to connect with a larger audience to lend her support, her voice about things that matter. She spoke of how 280 characters can bring about positive social change, how each day gives us a chance to initiate a change, how the initial step brings wisdom and how with wisdom change automatically follows. She said, “Twitter is like a buzzing room of people, talking, debating. Use it for a positive change.” Jimmy Tangree spoke about his experience of connecting Radio and the digital platform of Twitter together in making impacts on people’s lives, on how it lends a voice to the underprivileged sections of the society in telling their stories in a manner that they want to. “Life is not easy, it’s as easy as you make it”, Jimmy’s advice left everyone in the room beaming. Harish Iyer talked about how every voices from the margins matter and how Twitter has made invisible voices invincible. He said, “when you are an invisible minority, one voice of assurance is worth a million” and Twitter provides that space to people to find others who would validate each other’s troubles and crisis. Dr. Ranjana Kumari shared details on the condition of the Women’s Reservation Bill and talked about Time For 33% empowering women to occupy seats in more numbers in the Lok Sabha. Manasi Salvi followed her lead and elaborated the need to stand for people, for a cause even if one is directly not a victim and how each individual can be an active ingredients of positive change. Amitabh Kumar threw light on the four safety features of Twitter that users can utilise to dodge hate speech and harassment on Twitter: Block, Report, Ignore and Engage.
This was followed by a Q&A session where students and other participants were in direct interaction with the panelists where they all engaged and interacted. The session came to a close with Rahul Rajkhowa taking the stage and engaging everyone with his performance where he sang of things and issues that matters, some of them being equal rights, secular thoughts and conserving the environment. At the end of a cloudy day, the rainbow appeared in the room, where the session ended with many happy faces floating across, interacting, respecting each other’s presence, loving and most importantly engaging in constructive debates.