Leaderboards & Prestige Points: How Homegrown Applications Gamify Muslim Hate

17 August 2023, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


This article identifies a shift in the methods of digital repression used by state and non-state actors in Hindu majoritaria India, in the context of the country's deteriorating democracy rankings and looming worries about a possible Muslim genocide. Exploring the advent of hyper nationalistic, domestic social media applications, I argue that the platforms’ features, moderation practises, and regulations legitimise Islamophobia, collective actions against minorities, and surveillance. Based on 18 months of netnography and reflective observations within Kutumb app groups, I argue that the platforms affordances offered by the app ease its use as a covert tool for radicalization and recruiting digital volunteers for the Hindutva cause. My research shows how the app uses game mechanics to reward and "gamify" Islamophobia and different acts of violence against Muslims. This type of social, cultural and political engagement is habituating Islamophobia in every day, ordinary life.


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