Participants in the Tech Camp in Guwahati on Sunday. Telegraph picture
Guwahati, Sept. 10: In 2012, thousands from Assam boarded trains and fled Bangalore after a rumour about a possible attack on the people of Northeast spread fast on social media.
If a similar situation arises again, a group of youths from Assam will counter the hate campaign with truth# and try to promote peace. Thanks to a two-day tech camp organised here by Confederation of Voluntary Associations (COVA), a Hyderabad-based NGO.
The NGO’s director, Mazher Hussain, told The Telegraph , “At least 36 persons, including progressive religious scholars, activists, students and journalists, have been provided training on how to fight online hate campaigns by using social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, WhatsApp, podcasts and blogs among others.”
“Wrong information posted on social media often causes social tension and triggers violence and countering such hatred with truth is the basic objective of our programme,” he said.
The Northeast Youth Foundation, Asian Resource Foundation and Swahid Peoli Phukan College with the help of US Consulate General, Hyderabad, jointly conducted the tech camp here yesterday and today.
“It will not bring change in a day or in a week, but we hope that gradually we can build a network of people who can fight online hate campaigns on social media. They will pass on the technique they have gathered from the camp and help others to learn the same. In this way we hope to address the socially divisive and devastating trends arising from the wrong use of social media and promote understanding and peace through cyberspace,” Hussain said.
Northeast Youth Foundation convener Ranjan K. Baruah said, “The Northeast chapter of Countering Online Fanatic Indoctrination Network was formed today in order to promote the use of social media to counter online hate campaigns and to use cyberspace to promote peace and understanding between different religions and communities.”
Hussain said bridging the information gap about the Northeast with the people of the rest of the country was another purpose of the camp.
“They have decided to develop a website, a twitter handle, a WhatsApp group and a Facebook page where they will post information about the history, geography, the rich culture, food and other aspects of life and people in the Northeast. This will help people from the rest of the country to know more and dispel wrong notions about the region. This will definitely bridge the information gap. The devastating floods in the Northeast this year did not get much attention at the national level. The network will try to use the online platforms draw the attention of the people of the rest of the country,” Hussain said.
SUMIR KARMAKAR Telegraph India