Payal Rohatgi’s Abusive Tweets Deserve More than a Twitter Ban

Social Commentary

Payal Rohatgi’s Abusive Tweets Deserve More than a Twitter Ban

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

Possession of a Twitter account is not an inalienable right. It is a privilege enjoyed by users who abide by the sites rules and restrictions. And despite the armies of trolls found on the micro-blogging site, Twitter does occasionally suspend handles belonging to people who flout their rules. Payal Rohatgi, the actress-turned-right-wing mouthpiece, recently found herself on the wrong side of Twitter’s policies, as her account was suspended by Twitter India.

This is not Payal Rohatgi’s first suspension. She was also suspended by Twitter last month. She is known for repeating right-wing talking points on social media as well as trolling her former colleagues from the film industry. This time, Rohatgi took to Instagram to complain about her account suspension. She claimed that she uses her Twitter handle only to “share facts”, something which has been “projected in bad light by liberals and extremists who control Twitter”.

For someone who regularly posts anti-Muslim tweets, unverified claims, and communal narratives, Payal Rohatgi saying that she only “shares facts” is ironic. Another ludicrous statement from her came when she claimed, “Neither do I abuse people nor do I use any wrong word.” A quick glance through her timeline reveals the lie.

Rohatgi’s problematic presence on social media has landed her in hot water before. In June, an FIR was filed against the actress for her insensitive and abusive tweets against anti-CAA activist Safoora Zargar.

Last year, she was booked by the Rajasthan Police under the IT Act for posting offensive content pertaining to Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, and other members of the Nehru-Gandhi family.

A serial offender, Payal Rohatgi is also a peddler of misinformation. She had called the Kerala foods in 2018 the “wrath of god” caused by cow slaughter and in another tweet even went on to glorify sati.

Yet given her popularity among right-wing trolls, Rohatgi’s suspension has caused waves on Twitter. The hashtag #BringBackPayal is currently trending.

After complaining that her account was cancelled without any reason, she posted another video where she said she had received an email giving her the reason for her ban. She also alleged that Salman Khan was behind her suspension this time. In the same video, she called for her Twitter account to be restored, while also requesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ban Twitter.

We could complain that those two demands make no sense, but then, we realise that they’re coming from Payal Rohatgi and it all becomes clear.