Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap has quit Twitter. Known for tweeting his mind freely, he has often been critical of policies, even at the risk of a troll attack. This time, however, the response to a remark of his on the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status has made him withdraw from the micro-blogging platform. He started getting messages bristling with hatred, obscenities and even threats of physical violence. According to him, the trolls didn’t even spare his teenage daughter or his parents.

The crudity of responses online shows how foul the twittersphere has become. A platform meant for open conversations and snap debates has been reduced to something vile and unrecognizable, where rants replace repartee and invective acts as argument. This is almost tragic. It’s vital to allow space for dissent in a democracy. The online intimidation of those expressing contrarian views, no matter how unpopular, will have a chilling effect on the very idea of free speech. In Kashyap’s case, the threats need to be investigated by law enforcement authorities. As for Twitter, it may need to work out new filters to keep all forms of verbal abuse out.

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