The new age activism tool – social media, as expected, was the home of several verbal duels and political controversies this year. From Shashi Throor giving a fitting reply to Narendra Modi’s jibe at his wife Sunanda Pushkar to the arrest and release of two young girls for protesting Mumbai shutdown after Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray’s death. Even sports world had a brush with social media scandals. Switzerland footballer Michel Morganella expelled from the Olympics for directing an allegedly racist insult at South Koreans on Twitter. Here’s a look at top ten controversies that kept social media and world outside it, buzzing in 2012.
No joking: Mamata Banerjee vs Jadhavpur University
Jadhavpur university professor Ambikesh Mahapatra was assaulted by Trinamool Congress activists, and later arrested for uploading a spoof featuring West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banrejee, railwya minister Mukul Roy and his predecessor Dinesh Trivedi.
Four activist of Banerjee's Trinamool Congress party who were arrested for allegedly assaulting professor Ambikesh Mahapatra and forcing him to write out a 'confession' were later let off on bail.
Ambikesh Mohapatra vowed not to be cowed down. “I’m not sorry and will again send such emails in the future”.
Mamamta Banerjee, on her part, claimed the incident was Maoist conspiracy against her.
Hurting sentiments? Shiv Sena vs Palghar girls
Two girls, Shaheen Dhada and Renu Srinivasan, were arrested in Palghar after Dadha posted a Facebook status lamenting the Mumbai shutdown for Thackeray's funeral on November 18 and Renu 'liked' it.
They were arrested under IPC sections 295 (A) (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and 505(2) IPC (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes) and the IT Act.
Later, the girls were produced before the magistrate, who sent them to judicial custody and granted them bail on Rs. 15,000 each.
The incident sparked outrage leading to transfer of the magistrate and suspension of two police officials.
Shiv Sena, calling the act an insult to Bal Thackeray vandalised the clinic of Shaheen's uncle and forced shutdwon of Palghar town in protest. Nine Shiv Sainiks were arrested later.
Robert Vadra and ‘mango people’
Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra stirred up a controversy after he updated his status message on social networking site Facebook – ‘Mango people at a banana republic'.
The comment was a dig at IAC activist Arvind Kejriwal and his colleagues after they alleged Vadra received undue favours from real estate giant DLF.
Vadra later deleted his Facebook account.
Before deleting his account, Vadra reportedly wrote on his page, "Obviously, it seems I have people on my Facebook account who do not have a sense of humour. Everything I write becomes news and further debates on television?? I have decided to delete my account."
The BJP was quick to demand explaination from Congress over Vadra's comment.
"He has called India a banana republic when his own party is in power. Congress should explain this," party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
Air India employees arrested for Facebook updates
Two Air India employees were arrested under section 66 A of the IT Act for criticising Supreme Court orders.
KVJ Rao and Mayank Sharma were arrested in May 2012 for allegedly posting derogatory remarks against the Supreme Court in a closed online group for Air India employees.
They allege that the IT act was misused in their case.
Sharma and Rao were arrested and jailed for 12 days after trade union leader Sagar Karnik’s filed a complaint with police alleging that the two had posted “derogatory” remarks against the Prime Minister’s Office, the national flag and the Supreme Court, while commenting on a strike by Air India pilots.
Karnik, insisted that he was justified in seeking police action. He said, "I first approached the websites and reported abuse and sought for removal of the posts, but the websites said I will have to approach the local police for the same."
Karnik was later arrested for misleading the police on social networking sites.
Shashi Tharoor vs Narendra Modi and ‘priceless girlfriend’
Union minister Shashi Tharoor hit back at Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi on Twitter after he referred to his wife Sunanda Pushkar as a "Rs. 50-crore girlfriend" in a rally.
Tharoor's tweet, "@narendramodi My wife is worth a lot more than your imaginary 50 crores. She is priceless. But you need2be able2love some1 2understand that," which was retweeted over 1300 times and favourited by nearly 300, led to a Twitter fight between supporters of both the politicians.
Speaking to reporters after he tweeted, Tharoor said, "He (Modi) was silly to make that remark.. so I replied saying my wife is priceless.. and I added that he needs to love someone to understand that.. now we have to see if he is capable of understanding that.."
The Gujarat chief minister, in a veiled attack while campaigning in Himachal Pradesh said, "Wah kya girlfriend hai. Apne kabhi dekha hai 50 crore ka girlfriend? (What a girlfriend! Have you ever seen a 50-crore girlfriend?)," apparently in reference to Tharoor's wife Sunanda Pushkar.
Modi did not reply to Tharoor’s tweet.
Switzerland footballer expelled from the Olympics for racist tweet against South Koreans
Switzerland footballer Michel Morganella was expelled from the London Olympics for directing an allegedly racist insult at South Koreans on Twitter.
The Swiss Olympic delegation sent the 23-year-old defender home from the Games after he posted the message in the wake of the team's 2-1 defeat to South Korea.
On his part, the Michel regretted the act and said: "I made a huge mistake after the disappointing result.
"I wish to apologise to the people in South Korea and their team, but also to the Swiss delegation and Swiss football in general. I obviously accept the consequences for my actions."
Facepalm moment: Govt crack downs on social media, block Milind Deora’s twitter account
The government's crackdown on over 300 webpages, including social media accounts, in the backdrop of the Assam violence invited reactions from all quarters, even politicians.
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, put up a black image as the display picture on his Twitter handle. “As a common man, I join the protest against crackdown on freedom of speech! Have changed my DP. Sabko Sanmati De Bhagwan. #GOIBlocks,” he tweeted.
And in a perfect 'facepalm' moment for the government it was found out that MoS for communication and IT Milind Deora's twitter account was also blocked by the government.
Puducherry businessman tweets against Chidambaram’s son, lands in jail
A small scale industrialist in Puducherry was arrested in October for allegedly posting 'offensive' messages on the micro-blogging site Twitter targeting Union finance minister P Chidambaram's son Karti Chidambaram.
Ravi, the owner of a plastic packaging material factory, was arrested by the local crime branch wing of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Police on a complaint by Karti Chidambaram.
He was later let off.
Ravi, who was arrested under Section 66-A of the Information Technology Act, had allegedly posted messages on Twitter stating that Karti Chidambaram had amassed wealth more than that of Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
Football fans jailed for racist tweets
A Swansea University student was jailed for 56 days for posting racially offensive comments on Twitter about footballer Fabrice Muamba.
Liam Stacey, 21, from Pontypridd, admitted inciting racial hatred over remarks about the Bolton Wanderers player, who collapsed during a FA Cup tie at Tottenham in March.
A district judge in Swansea called the comments "vile and abhorrent"
In another such incident, a 15-year-old boy was arrested in connection with a racist tweet sent to a Manchester United player, reported to be Rio Ferdinand.
The teenager was held on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence, Greater Manchester Police said.
An investigation was launched after a message was directed at a United player during a fiery encounter between Manchester United and Manchester City.
Socialite Kim Kardashian’s gets slammed for tweet on Israel
American socialite Kim Kardashian received serious backlash after she posted a tweet supporting Israel, and declaring to her almost 17 million followers that she was Praying for everyone in Israel. The reality star’s tweet was followed with a number of death threats with one writing, Die in hell.
Some said they had lost all respect for her, were giving her “he middle finger, and called her a “disgrace to her people” and outright “disgusting”. Some others told her she should be praying for Palestine, not Israel.
According to Twitchy.com, which archives all tweets even if a user deletes them, five minutes after the initial post, Kardashian attempted to appease her haters with the follow-up tweet: “praying for everyone in Palestine and across the world!”
Both tweets were soon deleted from her account.
Disclaimer: Listing in no particular order