This newsletter is published at techpolicy.substack.com
What is this? This newsletter aims to track information disorder largely from an Indian perspective. It will also look at some global campaigns and research
What this is not? A fact-check newsletter. There are organisations like Altnews, Boomlive etc who already do some great work. It may feature some of their fact-checks periodically
Welcome to Edition #4 of MisDisMal-Information.
Youtubers v/s Tiktokers and the usual discourse
I must admit that I am probably too old to understand some of this, so I won’t go into the why’s or comment on the content. The gist of it is that a certain Youtuber roasted a TikToker (yes, these are words now, I checked) just as we were getting into the 2nd week of May. Somewhere between this roast and 9th May, it turned into a call to ban TikTok in India. So much so that it was actually trending on Twitter. When I looked into this trend on Twitter.com, I fully expected to find terms like ‘cringe’ or perhaps some casteist tweets in there. Why? Read this piece by Jyoti Yadav in theprint. But when I looked it up, aside from content directly related to this Youtube-TikTok turfwar/feud, I also came across what looked like a decent amount of anti-China and Islamophobic content. Intrigued, I analysed about 50K tweets from this period.
It was interesting to see that nearly 1/3rd of the tweets came from accounts created in the last few months. The word ‘cringe’ was used in only 0.1% of the tweets, though. However, 3.5% of the tweets contained references to religiously loaded terms like hindu, muslim, jihad, lovejihad, religion, culture etc. And another 3.5% had references to china/chinese, revenge, virus, some statements incorrectly attributed to tiktok’s founder etc. Now, I am deliberately not repeating/reposting any of that content here because I do not want to amplify it. But the fact that 7% of the tweets were so charged, is surprising to me. In my mind, that number is simultaneously higher and lower than I expected.
Why? Let me explain:
- High, because, this was largely a face-off between two types of content creators/platforms (on a 3rd platform, no less). That such rhetoric made its way in, just goes to show how the same event can drive many different narratives. I plan to see if this emerges as a pattern of sorts as I analyse more events on twitter.
- Low, because based on where I saw some of this content positioned on search results on twitter.com, I actually went into the analysis expecting to find easily more than 15-20% of such content. Of course, since my search was largely textual, I could have missed images/videos that drove similar narratives without the accompanying text.