Cross-posted from TheLatest.com Citizen Journal
For the uninitiated, Laibaah Ahmad Marri is a US based, Baloch activist, who was suspended from Twitter. The interesting part is, she was suspended, for the “fourth” time, after being reported as a “bot”…even though she shows no characteristics of a bot, which I will come to later.
It started like this. I noticed hashtag #Laibaah trending in Twitter for sometime, and then came to know it belonged to an account, of a certain activist, named Laibaah Ahmad Marri. I interacted with her, and came to know that she holds pretty strong views about minority rights in Pakistan, and with her tweets successfully managed to rub a few Human Rights bigshots in Pakistan, the wrong way, and was also banned from Twitter thrice before.
The story itself was fascinating enough. And I personally have seen a lot of Human rights bigshots in my life due to the nature of my job, to know that they actually do nothing worthwhile, speak a lot of vague and polite balderdash, and get all the credit, and quite a lot of cash on all the hard work of junior level activists who actually slog on the roads motivated by ideology. So I asked her to write a guest post for me, about her earlier experience, which she wrote. The article was then republished in a Rights blog in Pakistan.
Now immediately after writing that post, within a day, she got suspended again from Twitter. Now, obviously she was not a bot, as I have exchanged emails with her, and she wrote me a whole post! But apparently Twitter editors don’t know or understand that. I saw some of her followers and friends in Twitter, tagging human rights and other free speech campaigners and organisations too in their tweets. I myself tagged Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in a couple of my tweet notifying them of this development, but I am sorry to say I never got a reply much less a retweet. Rather interestingly I came across a few questions about if anyone saw her personally, or that she is doing propaganda against the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan” just because she is a Baloch.
Obviously you can’t argue either with imbeciles or with racially and ideologically prejudiced people.
Now the questions that are unanswered are these. Is she a bot? No. Was she a spammer. No. Does anyone know her personally? Not that I know of. Does it matter? Most definitely no.
You don’t need to know anyone personally to ask about her guest post. You don’t need a photo identity to support someone’s idea or ideology. Was she for real? I don’t know, nor do I care. She may be a man, masquerading as a woman. What matters to me is the ideas she speaks of. She was definitely not a mechanical bot, uttering same lines over and over again. She was a human, speaking about something which she believes in. I guess that is reason enough NOT to ban her from Twitter, as Twitter is supposed to be a platform for common people propagating their views. If a commoner is banned, then the whole purpose comes crumbling down in a self-defeating way. If some bigshot feels uncomfortable enough by her tweets, he or she can block this person. That is within their right, though I doubt that will save them from the uncomfortable questions raised by the person blocked. No wonder bigshot sounds so eerily similar to bigots.
As of the Twitter editors, please check each complains on a case by case basis before banning or suspending anyone. Otherwise you are yourself being mechanical while dealing with mechanical bots.