AltNews rubbishes doxing charges against co-founder Zubair

The FIR was registered on a complaint received from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
A file photo of Mohammed Zubair
A file photo of Mohammed Zubair
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Two separate FIRs have been filed against Mohammed Zubair, the co-founder of fact-checking website AltNews for calling out an abusive Twitter user. The FIR was filed almost a month after Zubair confronted a Twitter user for posting abusive replies under his fact checks.

On August 6, a user with the handle ‘@JSINGH2252’ abused Zubair in one of the replies to a tweet in which Zubair had published a fact check. Zubair responded to the abusive handle by sharing the user's profile picture with the caption: "Does your cute granddaughter know about your part-time job of abusing people on social media? I suggest you change your profile pic." Zubair had blurred out the minor girl's face while sharing it.

It was after this post that the users started tagging the National Commission for Women (NCW), Delhi police and NCPCR to take action against Zubair. According to reports, on September 5, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) asked for action to be taken against Zubair following an official complaint from the abusive handle. 

The Delhi Police Cyber Cell and the Raipur Police have filed FIRs under sections of the Information Technology (IT) Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act against him. 

"You look into the matter and take prompt action in respect to the Twitter handle and posts harassing, threatening and stalking the minor girl. Further, you were also requested to ensure safety of girl child and initiate appropriate action against the alleged perpetrators," NCPCR chief Priyank Kanoongo said in his letter to the Delhi police.

Priyank has also written to Twitter India to take action into the matter. Also, at least one reply to Zubair’s tweet was in the nature of a threat to the girl and that too has been highlighted in the complaint. 

However, several Twitter users including lawyers and journalists have shared that the charges of ‘harassing, threatening and stalking the minor girl’ are not made out in the tweet shared by Zubair, since he was reposting the user’s display picture and had blurred out the minor’s face.

Meanwhile, NCPCR chief has been questioned for taking selective and biased action against Zubair and not against Twitter handles that regularly use abusive and hateful language. 

AltNews co-founder Pratik Sinha has also shared other instances when the user ‘@JSINGH2252’ used abusive, creepy and sexist language, especially against Congress spokesperson Divya Spandana. 

Taking cognisance of these tweets, the National Women’s Commission has filed a complaint against the user.  

“@NCWIndia has come across this post enclosing offensive tweets by @JSINGH2252 which has posted pictures of women with misogynistic comments. Our Chairperson @sharmarekha has written to @TwitterIndia for deleting the account & to stop transmission of such content at the earliest,” the NCW tweeted, adding that a complaint has also been sent to the Cyber crime cell.

AltNews dismisses charges

AltNews in a statement said, "An attempt is being made to hound co-founder of AltNews, Mohammed Zubair through misuse of legal apparatus. AltNews stands by Mohammed Zubair. Zubair has been in the forefront of fighting fake narratives, and his work hurts those who have weaponised misinformation to subvert the Indian democracy."

Zubair has also refuted the allegation as “an absolutely frivolous complaint.”

Zubair responded by saying, "This is an absolutely frivolous complaint. I will be responding to it legally.”

AltNews has been instrumental in busting fake news and false WhatsApp forwards that crowd social media on a daily basis. Several users on social media have backed Zubair, commending the work that AltNews does, and said that the legal action was unwarranted. 

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