I received the following email earlier today from a regular reader of Faking News:
I am a regular reader of Faking News and respect it as more interesting, genuine, knowledgeable and responsible news site than others.
Lately I have seen some obscene and unwarranted ads on your site which degrades its respect and reputation.
(Copy of the latest such ad is attached for your ready reference.)
These type of ads brings you in the category of same business minded newspapers which have no social responsibility and their sole motto is to earn money.
I, therefore, suggest you not to post such kind of ads on your site. Hope you will maintain your respect and reputation and will keep your site distinguished.
Thanks and regards.
My first impression was – maybe someone too sensitive was offended by some Google ad promoting dating websites (yes, Faking News doesn’t use first party ads. Small players like us have to rely on ad-networks, and among all ad-networks, I rely on Google).
(note: This post contains a NSFW (not safe for work) picture, so proceed at your own discretion.)
For those who don’t know how Google Ads work, the publishers (i.e. sites like Faking News) don’t choose what ad would be displayed on a page. Google uses an algorithm to choose and display the ad based on keywords (content on the website) and cookies (your local search history, etc.). Publishers can opt out of a category of advertisement or block particular advertisers, but can’t control advertisements for each and every page.
However, after I opened the attachment in the mail, the ad concerned was more than any flirtatious Google ad: Continue reading
No, Mumbai’s ACP Vasant Dhoble has not joined Twitter. Nor has he requested the government to block many parody accounts running in his name. But we have a virtual Dhoble running with hockey stick and blocking accounts on Twitter.
Why am I brining Dhoble into Internet Censorship?
Because I find a scary parallel between both the events.
At the outset, let me make it clear that I’m making a distinction between what is being labeled as “trolling” and criminal online behavior such as cyber-bullying and hate-mongering. However, this distinction is NOT made by a league of critics (most of them journalists) who are on a mission to purge the social media by launching a War On Trolling, much like Junior Bush launched War On Terror and declared that “if you are not with us, you are with the terrorists”.
In that case, I’m with the trolls (as defined by them).
The Niira Radia tapes have been making news, even as the electronic media has chosen to ignore them, especially the ones that feature two leading television journalists – Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi. The tapes suggest that there was extensive lobbying to make A Raja the telecommunications minister for the second term of the UPA and Niira Radia, a Public Relations professional, was at the center of this lobbying.
Now, this in itself is not any news frankly. “Lobbying” is no secret or crime; it’s called “Public Affairs” by most of the Public Relations consultancy companies and they proudly put it up under the “services” section on their websites. Take for example the following paragraph that appears on the website of IPAN, one of the leading PR agencies of India:
“Among our successful campaigns are those on behalf of STAR TV (to beat back a discriminatory cable TV regulation bill), the Soaps and Toiletries Manufacturers Association (to secure reduction in duties on cosmetics), the Express Industry Council of India (to stall a bill designed to protect the monopoly of the post office), the All India Meat and Livestock Exporters Association (to counter militant vegetarian groups seeking the closure of mechanized abattoirs producing meat for exports) and the Tea Packeters Association of India (to secure removal of excise duty on packaged tea).”
From the above paragraph, one can conclude, and (s)he would technically be not wrong, that some corporates paid money (unless IPAN carried out those campaigns out of some goodwill) to “beat back” and “stall” bills (inside or outside the parliament?) and decide excise duties that determine the revenue receipt of the government.
Should we be outraged that this is how policies of our nation are framed?
Not even a fake news article had attracted so much of traffic and reaction in a single day as my open letter to Arundhati Roy did (I’m not patting my back but mere stating a fact that might be insignificant for you). While most of the reactions were on expected lines (I knew many people were hell irritated with Roy calling India “bhookha nanga”, and they would lap it up), some of the reactions amused, shocked and disgusted me.
There were comments, again on expected lines, on both the facebook page as well as here on this blog, which were abusive (towards Ms. Arundhati Roy, me, or to fellow readers); that was disgusting, but as a rule, I would ignore them and not comment upon their “merits”.
The other reaction, rather criticism, was that the language I used was unfair, unkind and uncouth (?). Hello! This article was published and categorized in “Rants” to begin with. When I shared it on twitter and facebook i.e. when I “solicited” readership, I put that “rants” and “strong language” disclaimers upfront. If you were not comfortable with “rants”, you should never have bothered to read it. If you click a link with NSFW disclaimer at your workplace, only you are to be blamed if you lose your job.
The third reaction, which was the most important for me and because of which I’m writing this follow up article, was the confusion whether the article was just on Arundhati Roy or about the wider Kashmir issue. I replied to a couple of comments, but I thought I should make that clear to each and every one, and hence this article.
Congrats, you are back in news! You were trending on Twitter and featured in Google trends. And thanks, you made many guys look up dictionary.com to understand what sedition meant. You are really of some use!
Well, I read your statement, and I loved it because it was not a fucking 30,000 words essay! Anyway, I had some reactions, please find them below (in bold and in red, adjectives that you prefer?):
A couple of months back I was in Bihar, my home state, and the state was gearing up for elections. It was a completely personal tour to spend some time with my parents and family and I hardly interacted with any ‘outsider’, except when I had to venture out to take part in Money Mantra, a television show by NDTV Profit, where I was supposed to discuss “Business opportunities via social networking” (even though I’m yet to make any profit through social networking, I agreed for sake of being on television ).
The television channel was kind enough to provide me a cab for commuting. While coming back home once the recording for the show was over, I decided to get into a chit-chat with the driver of the cab (it was in Hindi, but what follows is a translated version):
“Finally Patna seems to have roads where one can drive cars without much headache, no?” I started the conversation with the driver, who looked like someone in his late 30’s, and I’m ashamed not to be able to recall his name right now.
This Thursday, CNN-IBN anchor and senior journalist Sagarika Ghose termed Lord Rama as “divine encroacher” in one of her tweets, which she later deleted as it caused considerable outrage among the twitterati, a section of whom she loves to refer as “Internet Hindus”.
Earlier, another journalist, Priya Ramani, in one of her articles had termed Lord Rama as “loser” for making Sita go through agni pariksha, and again it caused considerable outrage, though the article is still there (and I’m NOT asking it to be removed or deleted).
These are not only two instances, in fact these are very minor instances and perhaps didn’t warrant any outrage given that Lord Rama has gone through much more with people calling him male chauvinist, anti-dalit, anti-dravidian, an aggressor, and Ramayanas being burnt down south on so many occasions.
Even though I fancy myself as an atheist in terms of religious beliefs, there are some cultural “Hindu” elements within me (which I can’t escape), because of which, maybe, I don’t find these comments quite charitable.
But it’s not just the Hindu cultural elements, I find such comments equally uncharitable when made about gods or prophets of other religions, say, finding fault with the personality or “morality” of Prophet Muhammad.
For so many weeks I had been thinking of writing on a number of issues, but my laziness (primarily) and preoccupation with writing Faking News articles stopped me from writing another article since I wrote my first one almost five months back! Not that someone out there missed my writings and thoughts desperately, but if I call it a ‘blog’ I should treat it as one.
I thought of writing this article after I was approached by a national news channel to participate in a chat show on “freedom of speech”, where I was supposed to represent a party whose freedom of speech (the fake news reports) had the potential of “hurting sentiments” of others. Unfortunately the shooting for the show was to happen in Mumbai and I was not in a position to travel out of Delhi at that time and hence I missed the debate, but it surely made me think aloud over the issue.
The trigger of the debate (chat show) was Pakistan banning facebook, primarily due to a page titled “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day”, which they thought was offensive to Muslims and should have been deleted by facebook administrators. Even I had received a couple of nasty mails/tweets/comments after I made a joke on Pakistan’s knee-jerk reaction of banning facebook, and I knew that the issue of freedom of speech and expression was pretty relevant to me.
Recently, the issue of freedom of speech was again in center after an article published in TIME magazine was deemed offensive by many Indians, following which the magazine and the author appended their responses at the end of the article, both expressing ‘regret’ at having hurt people’s sentiments.
That has led some people to ask if TIME or any other western media outlet would have done the same (express regret) if the aggrieved parties were Muslims?
Cricket, Politics and Movies have been the biggest newsmakers in our country. Every Indian is an expert of at least one of these topics, and the enjoyment that he or she derives from discussing them is paralleled only by the enjoyment derived from sex. And by these standards, in the last one month or so, Indians have indulged in mass orgy. Cricket was our foreplay, Politics was our sexual intercourse, and a Movie gave us the orgasm.
Now what do you do after having a satisfying session of sex? If you are selfish, you straightaway go to sleep. If you are sensual, you hold on and talk to your partner. So let’s talk how it was.
Let’s go back to the foreplay.