Journalist Binu Subedi of the Kantipur national daily became a victim of cyberbullying for her reporting on weaknesses of the government and the ruling political party. A group of individuals close to Nepal Communist Party's (NCP) harassed and trolled her spreading wrong message over her professional integrity in the recent weeks (second week of May).
"Some individuals have been harassing me via misleading and defamatory posts on micro-blogging site Twitter in the recent time," Subedi said. She reports on the political beat of the newspaper. After her series of reporting exposing the government's nexus with interest groups and plights of laborers stranded in the lockdown, various social media accounts started to attack her online.
Subedi said, "Our reporting sometimes questions the decisions and activities of the government. When my reporting becomes critical to the ruling leaders and government, they directly and indirectly, discourage me to write critical news," Subedi told Freedom Forum.
A twitter user Umesh Dulal aka Nirajan Sharma tweeted accusing Subedi of getting a job at Kantipur daily upon the recommendation of former prime minister. Another user Asmita Thapa, accused Subedi of her critic reporting about the government was because Defense Minister refused to take her on the helicopter during his border inspection in Darchula. Various other twitter users have retweeted the tweets and other individuals close to NCP have tweeted the similar misinformation about her.
"Sometimes they misinterpret my reporting and other times they spread illusion about my professional integrity. Although it has not obstructed my work, it has discouraged me a lot," she said. According to her, most of the social media users trolling and bullying her are close and loyal to the Prime Minister.
Government, political parties, and leaders are free to refute the media reporting if they don't agree on it. There are legal provisions where they can place complaints- the Press Council Nepal-to report journalist's reporting if that is wrong.
Lately, cyber harassment and bullying has been widely adopted by the ardent supporters of government to discourage, de-motivate, belittle and discredit media and journalists. It has badly damaged the safe and secure atmosphere for the journalists, especially female ones, to continue profession. In addition to the repressive laws and policies on media, online harassment with mobilization of supporters and cyber armies is another new trend to suppress freedom of expression and journalists' rights. This action by the ruling party supporters not only exposes NCP commitment to protection of free press but also indicates development of national politics hostile to freedoms.
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