Are Social Media Giants Helping Indian Authorities Wage War Against Climate Activists?

Climate activists have rarely put the government of India in the position of international hero — but then again, climate activists all over the world are pissed off at their respective governments. Why shouldn’t they be? Politics are putting the future of our world at risk. They shouldn’t force us to delay investment into renewable energy solutions just because a few holdouts can stomach the idea.

Last month, Naomi Klein for The Intercept wrote about a climate activist named Disha Ravi: “A nature-loving 22-year-old vegan climate activist who against all odds has found herself ensnared in an Orwellian legal saga that includes accusation of sedition, incitement, and involvement in an international conspiracy whose elements include…Indian farmers in revolve, the global pop star Rihanna, supposed plots against yoga and chai, Sikh separatism, and Greta Thunberg.”

Ravi had spent more than a week in prison while she was interrogated about her alleged part in these crackpot conspiracy theories when a judge granted her bail. But he actually wrote an 18-page ruling to rant about the government’s part in accusing this youthful, innocent activist without actual proof.

Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter have now been accused of playing a role in helping the Indian government lock up activists like Ravi — and for no good reason.

One anonymous digital rights activist told Naomi, “The silence of these companies speaks volumes. They have to take a stand, and they have to do it now.”

The judge who presided over Ravi’s case wrote: “Citizens are conscience keepers of government in any democratic Nation. They cannot be put behind the bars simply because they choose to disagree with the state policies.”

Part of the government’s case against Ravi hinged on Ravi sharing a digital “toolkit” with Greta Thunberg, a famous climate rights activist. These toolkits are basically just organizational suggestions. Tweet this, hashtag that, etc. The judge said that sharing the toolkit amounted to “the freedom of speech and expression [and included] the right to seek a global audience.”

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