Realising that social media with its massive reach and lightning speed has the potential “to affect law and order”, especially in sensitive areas, Akhilesh Yadav government is setting up two “laboratories” to be manned by police to monitor content and prevent any trouble. “The (Uttar Pradesh) government has sanctioned two social media labs in Lucknow and Meerut and work is on for setting them up very soon, may be within two months,” ADG (Traffic) Anil Agarwal, who is looking after all the IT projects of the state police, said.
The officers and Sub-inspectors, who will operate these labs, have been trained by experts of Indian Institutes of Information Technology, he said. “Social media is a very important means of expressing opinion publicly and it is important for us to know what is going on,” he said, adding that opinions expressed on the social media could affect law and order situation. These labs will monitor the activities on social media sites – Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter – and though it will not be able to block the posts, it will enable the law enforcement agency to study the contents and counter them before any damage is done, according to officials. If their activities are found to be violative of law, action could be initiated against mischievous elements, they said.
With these labs becoming functional, it would be easier to monitor social networking sites, see the number of persons who are seeing and reacting to posts and also to assess the extent of damage that any objectionable post could cause, they said.
According to sources, government became vigilant against wrongful use of social media after communal riots in Muzaffarnagar in 2013 during which an allegedly fake video was uploaded by a politician.