Centre for Internet & Society

We are pleased to be inviting applications for one part/full-time researcher to join CIS’ new project on studying online caste-based hate speech and abuse (OCHS). UPDATE: This call for applications is now closed. We have received an overwhelming number of applications, and will be in touch with applicants shortly.

We are pleased to be inviting applications for one part/full-time researcher to join CIS’ new project on studying online caste-based hate speech and abuse (OCHS). The researcher would be expected to assist in documenting the legal framework on how the Indian state deals with OCHS, and reviewing the content policies of social media platforms to understand and assess the measures taken by them to combat this. The researcher is also expected to undertake key informant interviews with individuals from the Dalit, Bahujan and Adivasi (DBA) communities to understand and document lived experiences of facing such abuse online. 

Due to restrictions on movement, this position would be a remote one. Please read the sections below for more details about the work involved, the timeline for the same, and the application process for this call. 

Description of the Work

For the first part of the research, the research would be assisting in documentation of how state actors deal with OCHS, summarising the legal provisions and jurisprudence that restrict OCHS and related expression, with a focus on how these laws are applicable to online spaces. 

In the second part, the research would be focussing on the role of social media intermediaries in combating this, and accordingly, the researcher would be assisting in a twofold course of research: 

  1. Evaluating the community guidelines of these companies and checking whether ‘caste’ is included as a protected category in their hate speech norms, and whether the guidelines are compatible with relevant affirmative legislations, 

  2. Interviewing the platforms themselves, to understand whether their internal moderation capacities are adequate and diverse to properly deal with the presence of OCHS on their platforms, and protect the interests of users belonging to the DBA community. 

In the final part, the researcher would be expected to undertake in-depth semi-structured interviews to document the lived experiences of at least five DBA influencers across select social media platforms. Tentatively, they will be asked the following questions:  

  1. Have they been targeted with OCHS, or other kinds of harassment, violence, or other problematic speech online?

  2. What was the content of the OCHS that they were targeted with?

  3. How did they respond to OCHS?

    1. Did they report this on the platform? If yes, under which category? Did the platform respond? Was their response satisfactory?

    2. Did they report the instance to the police or any other state authority? Did the police/agency respond, and was their response satisfactory?

  4. Did they in any way modify their behaviour online to avoid OCHS?

  5. Were there gendered components to the OCHS they were targeted with?

 

Eligibility and Application Process

We encourage people belonging to the DBA community to submit their applications for this call.
 

Mandatory requirements: 

We are seeking applications from individuals who:

  • Are fluent in English (especially written);

  • Have an undergraduate degree in any of the social sciences, including, but not limited to, law, sociology, political science, and history OR at least two years of experience in research/advocacy/on-ground work on issues around caste.

Additional requirements: 

Previous research and writing experiences on issues at the intersection of gender, caste and policy, or on issues of social media content moderation practices would be preferred. Fluency in at least one regional language would also be a plus. 

Please send the following documents (in text or PDF formats) to [email protected] by ​January 31, 2021​​ to apply for the researcher position:

  • Brief CV with relevant academic and professional information

  • Two samples of academic/professional (published/unpublished) writing by the applicant

  • A brief statement of motivation (maximum 500 words) 

The application process may involve one or more interviews after a screening. All applicants will be informed of the selection decisions in February .

Timeline of Work

The project and the position will tentatively run for three months, starting February or March.

Remuneration

Remuneration will be competitive based on past research experience, and the number of hours per month the researcher dedicates to the project. Researchers joining full time (40 hours per week) will have a base salary INR 55000, with flexibility depending on past experience and domain knowledge.  

 

Description of the Project

Access and exercise of rights (especially non-discrimination) are tightly mediated across caste lines in South Asia. We propose an interdisciplinary exploration of online caste-based hate speech (OCHS) in India to answer three research questions.

First, we will examine the role of the Indian state in combating OCHS. For this part, we will document the legal framework and jurisprudence on how the Indian state deals with OCHS. For the second part of the project, we will shift our focus to understanding the role of large content and social media platforms. Finally, through key informant interviews with individuals from Dalit, Bahujan, and Adivasi (DBA) groups, we will document the experiences of facing such abuse online. We will specifically aim to answer questions about the intersectionality of caste and gender-based violence, and summarise their expectations from government and social media companies.

Previously, CIS has worked extensively on freedom of expression online, content moderation, intermediary liability and we’ve built capacity on both feminist research methods and exploring research questions with an intersectional lens.

This particular project will be jointly led by Ambika Tandon, Gurshabad Grover and Torsha Sarkar at the Centre for Internet and Society, and is supported by a grant from Association for Progresive Communications.