Social media is a "virtual public sphere" and it's strange that online users do not react strongly enough to the harassment women face on Twitter and Facebook, actor Swara Bhasker said on Sunday while speaking at NDTV Youth Conclave.
"I believe social media is a public sphere just like a bus stop. When you see a woman being harassed in public space, you would go ahead and try to stop it. Why don't we do it when the same thing happens in a virtual space?" she asked as she spoke about the trolling she faces on Twitter during the session "Are social media influencers heroes or villains?".
Referring to the mob attack on a youth, Junaid, in June last year in a train, she questioned why nobody tried to stop the attack. The youth, who lived in a village near Delhi, was killed in the mob attack in the Mathura-bound train ahead of Eid.
"There were more than 200 people there and not one of them tried stopping the attackers. Is this the kind of people we want to be?" she said.
Called a "troll destroyer" by fellow panelist Dilip Cherian, she said she often tries to ignore the abuses she receives online, but not always. "I do try to ignore them but there too many of them. Some are especially hateful. My friend coined a nice word for them: "nafrati chintoo"," she said.
Stressing on the importance of social media, Ms Bhasker, who tweets from the handle "@ReallySwara", said: "Social media is a huge equaliser. A president will hear a troll's abuse as loudly as a troll will hear a president's message."
Replying to a question on the people making videos when a woman faces sexual harassment in public space, instead of reacting to it, she said: "It's shameful that people can turn into mute spectators. There can be nothing more disappointing that not reacting to sexual harassment and instead recording a video and uploading it on social media."