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Prophet row murder sparks fury on Indian social media

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Jashoda Sahu Teli holds a picture of her slain husband Hindu tailor Kanhaiya Lal, who was allegedly killed by two Muslim men for supporting a former spokeswoman of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party party for her remarks about the Prophet Mohammed

Jashoda Sahu Teli holds a picture of her slain husband Hindu tailor Kanhaiya Lal, who was allegedly killed by two Muslim men for supporting a former spokeswoman of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party party for her remarks about the Prophet Mohammed – Copyright AFP Genya SAVILOV

Anuradha PRASAD and Sean GLEESON

The gruesome killing of a Hindu tailor has inflamed religious tensions in India and sparked a furious response on social media, including calls for reprisal attacks against the country’s Muslim minority.

Two Muslim men have been arrested over Tuesday’s attack, committed in apparent retaliation for inflammatory comments about the Prophet Mohammed made by a spokeswoman for India’s governing party weeks earlier.

Footage of the murder and attempted beheading of Kanhaiya Lal, which went viral online, also showed his attackers brandishing large knives and threatening to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India has a long history of communal violence and authorities have shut down internet connections and imposed a curfew in the city where the attack took place to prevent unrest.

But social media platforms have been consumed by angry reactions to the killing, with some users demanding violent retribution against both the accused murderers and other Muslims.

Members of public Telegram groups dedicated to promoting and defending Hinduism called on each other to pick up weapons and attack Muslims, or discussed the virtues of storming a police station to attack the two accused men.

The far-right Hindu group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) used social media to issue a nationwide protest call against Islamist terrorism and complain that Muslims had routinely upset the religious sentiments of India’s majority religion.

“You should be afraid of the day when Hindus too start giving reply to the insult,” senior VHP figure Surendra Kumar Jain said in a video posted online, and watched nearly 75,000 times across Twitter and Facebook.

Though many prominent voices said the killing was an indictment of Islam, many of the loudest voices condemning the attack came from Muslim religious groups.

“There is no room for justification of violence in Islam,” wrote the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, one of at least half a dozen prominent India-based Muslim groups to condemn the attack while also calling for calm.

“Peace should not be disturbed. Nobody should try to take advantage of this ugly crime.”

– ‘Hindu lives matter’ goes viral –

A day after his murder, Lal’s name had been mentioned more than 200,000 times on Twitter, along with a grab bag of hashtags condemning the attack.

The hashtag “Hindu lives matter” was being posted more than 2,000 times an hour on Thursday.

Lal had been targeted after a Facebook post expressing support for Nupur Sharma, a BJP spokeswoman who last month made inflammatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed during a TV debate.

Her comments led to violent protests in India and embroiled the country in a diplomatic row, with nearly 20 countries calling in their Indian ambassadors for an explanation.

The BJP went into damage control after Sharma’s comments, suspending her from the party and issuing a statement to insist that it respected all religions.

But since coming to power nationally in 2014, Modi’s party has been accused by rights groups and foreign governments of championing discriminatory policies towards India’s 200-million strong Muslim minority.

Amnesty this month said authorities had waged a “vicious” crackdown on Muslims who took to the streets to protest Sharma’s remarks, including by demolishing homes with bulldozers.

Since the attack on Lal, party members have taken to social media to criticise Muslim nations that had complained about Sharma’s comments for remaining silent on the killing.

Several also took aim at Indian journalist Mohammed Zubair, who had helped draw attention to the remarks by Sharma that eventually saw her suspended from the BJP.

In one tweet, Kapil Mishra, a BJP politician, accused Zubair and his supporters of being “responsible” for the tailor’s death.

Zubair, who has drawn frequent attention to hate speech by Hindu fringe groups, was arrested on Monday.

He remains in custody, with police citing a four-year-old tweet about a Hindu god they said had been the subject of complaints by Hindu groups.

Police opened an investigation into Sharma this month after a complaint by a member of the public about her remarks, but she has not been arrested and her current whereabouts are unknown.

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These Guys Are Stupid, And I'm Being Charitable

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These Guys Are Stupid, And I'm Being Charitable

Why do some organizations still solicit funds the way they did in the 1960s? You need to take a smarter marketing approach, or you’ll waste money like they do. I’m still getting about two bucks a month in cash from stupid, misguided charities that insist on sending me actual money in the mail. I get …

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Internal Documents Reveal That the New Twitter Blue Has Fewer Than 300k Subscribers at Present

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Internal Documents Reveal That the New Twitter Blue Has Fewer Than 300k Subscribers at Present

Look, I know people have strong opinions about Elon Musk, and I realize that any criticism is going to be viewed as political commentary, even if it’s not (because I’m not American, I can’t vote, I don’t care about Hunter Biden, etc.). But Elon’s paid verification program is dumb, the dumbest move that he’s made at Twitter to date.

And I understand the logic – Elon says that when he came on, the company was losing $4 million per day, which lead to mass lay-offs, and a scramble for revenue generation options.

Paid verification, then, makes sense, while Elon also extrapolated the need for immediate cash into a pathway to combat bots, by using verification as a means to ‘verify all the real humans’ – i.e. bots won’t pay, and bot peddlers won’t be able to afford such at scale.

I get all the moving parts, and optimistically, they may sense.

But realistically, which is the more important ‘ally’ of the two, it just doesn’t.

Because most people won’t pay, especially when you’re offering nothing much in return, other than a graphic of a tick next to their username, while the very act of selling verification ticks erases their only perceptual value, that being exclusivity.

Now, everyone can buy one, so the tick is meaningless, at least as a status marker of some form.

My perspective on this been vindicated, at this early stage at least, by a new report from The Information, which says that, according to internal documents:

"Around 180,000 people in the US were paying for subscriptions to Twitter, including Twitter Blue, as of mid-January, or less than 0.2% of monthly active users […] The U.S. number is about 62% of Twitter’s global subscriber total, the document says, which implies Twitter has 290,000 global subscribers.”

That’s consistent with the findings of researcher Travis Brown, who’s been posting regular updates on Twitter Blue subscriber numbers, based on searches of users that show up as ‘blue_verified’ in the back-end.

At present, based on Brown’s figures, the new Twitter Blue program looks to have around 300,000 subscribers, very close to the data The Information has seen.

That would mean that Twitter’s currently bringing in an extra $2.4 million per month via the program, or $7.2 million per quarter. Which is pretty good, that’s extra income at a time when Twitter desperately needs it. But it’s still way, way off from where Twitter wants its subscription revenue intake to be.

To reiterate, when initially outlining his Twitter 2.0 reformation plans, Elon said that he wants to make subscription revenue around 50% of Twitter’s overall intake. That would align somewhat with the aforementioned revenue and bot-battling potential – but in order to do this, Twitter needs to increase Twitter Blue take-up 81x its current state.

300k sign-ups is also only 0.12% of Twitter’s active user base – so to reiterate, revenue-wise, it’s not close to meeting goals, and as a bot disincentive, it’s nowhere near meeting its aims. And while Twitter has just this weekend rolled out Twitter Blue to more regions, there’s just no way that it’s ever going to reach the levels required to make it a viable consideration in either respect.

Which means that all the mucking around, all the impersonation issues, all the gold checks and gray ticks and square profile images and brand logos. All of this has, on balance, been a waste of time.

It’s not nothing – again, Twitter needs all the extra money it can get right now, and a $29 million annual boost in intake will help. But functionally, it’s been a series of blunders and missteps, one after the other.

And now, Twitter wants brands to pay $1,000 a month for a gold tick?

Yeah, safe to say that’s not going to be a roaring success either. And while Twitter will likely get a few more Twitter Blue sign-ups when it removes legacy blue checks sometime in future, that’s still only 420k extra subscribers, max.

The churn rate will also be high – because again, a blue tick isn’t valuable anymore if everyone can buy one – and unless Elon and Co. have some magic updates to build into Twitter Blue in future, beyond Blue-only polls eller paying to qualify for monetization, I don’t see how this becomes a significant element of Twitter’s overall intake or process.

But maybe I’m missing something. Maybe, because it’s Elon Musk, we’ve missed the point, or the process, and there is actually another pathway to winning on this front that’s not been revealed as yet.

I don’t see it, but I can’t imagine the logistics of flying to Mars either, so maybe there’s more to come.

But I doubt it.



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Housebound Jordanian football fan a social media star

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Amer Abu Nawas was born with osteogenesis, or brittle bone disease, a genetic condition hindering normal bone growth that has meant he rarely leaves his home

Amer Abu Nawas was born with osteogenesis, or brittle bone disease, a genetic condition hindering normal bone growth that has meant he rarely leaves his home – Copyright AFP Khalil MAZRAAWI

Kamal Taha

Having spent most of his life housebound due to a medical condition, Jordanian Amer Abu Nawas’s love of football has propelled him to social media stardom.

Offering analysis of matches from the leading European football leagues to almost a quarter of a million followers, his Facebook page — “HouseAnalyzer” in Arabic — has grown into what he describes as a “big family”.

The 27-year-old was born with osteogenesis, or brittle bone disease, a genetic condition hindering normal bone growth that has meant he rarely leaves his home in Zarqa, 30 kilometres (18 miles) from Jordan’s capital Amman.

“It is true that I have never played football in my life, and have never attended any match, but for me football is everything,” Abu Nawas told AFP.

With no schools in the country catering to his needs, Abu Nawas grew up spending much of his time watching football matches, analysing the teams and playing football video games.

“This always made me feel like it is taking me from this world to a different one,” he said.

His relatives noticed his passion and encouraged him to publish his match analyses online.

In 2017, he launched his Facebook account, which now counts more than 243,000 followers.

– ‘Reach people’ –

Filmed on a phone in his bedroom, Abu Nawas’s videos usually feature him wearing a football jersey, excitedly commenting on matches and news from the world of football.

Discussing leagues from England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, he sometimes uses a football pitch-shaped board to explain tactical nuances.

One of Abu Nawas’s latest videos reached more than 1.4 million viewers and he has started posting on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Twitter.

He said he was grateful for modern technology allowing him to connect with so many people.

“From this room, from this small place isolated from the world, I was able to cross these walls, reach people, communicate with them, create content, and become what I am today,” he said.

He expressed sadness at sometimes seeing people attack each other in comments to his posts, and said his relationship with his followers was “like a family”.

“This family is growing day by day, and I hope it will reach as many followers as possible,” he added.

Abu Nawas’s own family do their best to provide him with a comfortable life.

He is the youngest of three brothers and his father is a doctor and his mother a pharmacist.

Inside his room are shelves with a PlayStation, a computer and plastic baskets keeping items he might need.

On his bed are phones, remote controls, headphones and a long stick used to reach distant items.

– ‘Not an obstacle’ –

“He has his own world, in a room with a temperature of 27 degrees to avoid cold and pneumonia. He can operate anything using the remote control,” his father Yussef told AFP.

He said his son has friends who occasionally visit.

“When he feels bad, they take him out for a tour in a minibus,” he said.

Abu Nawas lamented that in Jordan “nobody cares” about people with diseases like his, and said he wished he had had the opportunity to attend school.

“The conditions for people with special needs are catastrophic,” he said.

“I could not learn because there are no special schools for people like me.”

Last year, the organisers of the football World Cup invited him to attend the tournament in Qatar.

But due to travel difficulties linked to his condition, he arrived late and missed the matches he was scheduled to attend.

Even so, Abu Nawas said it was “the best 10 days of my life”.

“I know my condition, I learned to be content, and I will remain so,” he said.

“Disability need not be an obstacle to success.”

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