The anonymous don’t mince words. They know only too well that they will be heard. And appreciated. 

“I don’t know if people believe what I say or not but they do like what I say,” it says. “And that is because people like to hear what they believe in and connect instantly when you serve them with that. There are two sides to everything, and the startup ecosystem is no different. But media so far has only projected the sunny side while leaving the dark side for the reader to discover himself. And in the process lost the credibility and trust it once enjoyed. When I share some of the little known ugly side of the startups, people fucking love it.”

Maybe, you’ve seen this play out. 

“Today in the digital world, anyone with a credit card can buy a Rs 999 website,” says another faceless, nameless person. “Integrate a 20$/month WordPress template and start a ‘News site’ but what they write there is a pure piece of opinion. And that sells because even the consumers want gossip, and that is a sad fact for both sides today.”

Perhaps, you’ve seen this play out too. I can’t remember the exact night it happened. Except, it was late. 10:30 – 11 o’clock late. My Direct Messages (DMs) on Twitter, the microblogging network, had had an exceptionally active last few days:

“Pssst…”

“Hey man. Can you dig more and expose them?”

“Hey. I spoke to the founder. He is really pissed.” 

“Hey. Did you see this? What do you think?” 

“Hey. I read the story you guys have written. That’s not true. Who is your source? You should double check your information. I know it for a fact…”

“You want goss?” [gossip]

“BTW, I keep tweeting often about FK & some insider stuff, like the other trolls Uni_con_1 and CorporateKumar_. Needed to get in touch with someone with stronghold in startup sphere. Thanks for the connection, I can keep someone posted of stuff.”

How's this for outrageous?

So, my DMs went. Constantly buzzing. Like they did, at that very moment, late into the evening. “Hey…”

Some small talk followed like it usually does. But, it got me thinking; what’s happening here? There are so many folks out there, taking comfort in anonymity and digging up stories. They have leads, nuggets of information from sources, which they are ever so willing to pass on to journalists. Or put it out themselves. And on the face of it, people seem to take them seriously. Trusting the information. Most of these folks, if not all, seem to have a day job but they spend a good part of their day speaking to sources and getting information. 

AUTHOR

Ashish K. Mishra

Ashish edits and writes stories at The Ken. Across subjects. In his last assignment, he was a Deputy Editor at Mint, a financial daily published by HT Media. At the paper, he wrote long, deeply reported feature stories. His earlier assignments: Forbes India magazine and The Economic Times. Born in Kolkata. Studied in New Delhi – B.Com from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University. Works out of anywhere, where there is a good story to be told.

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