How Delhi Police social media team is nipping trouble in the bud

Police team monitoring news channels and social media websites at the Delhi Police headquarters.

Police team monitoring news channels and social media websites at the Delhi Police headquarters. | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

Earlier this year, tagging Delhi Police, a video was shared by a Twitter user showing a herd of cows stacked inside a mini-truck, claiming that they were being smuggled in east Delhi’s Ghazipur area. Within seconds, the police’s social media monitoring team swung into action and sent the input to the nodal officer of the district police, who in turn informed senior officers about the matter.

Both the DCP and the ACP, along with a team of officers, rushed to the spot and after an hour-long search found that there was no such vehicle ferrying cows in the area. An action taken report was then sent back by the nodal officer to the team, which put out a response on the thread stating that the video was nothing but a sham.

Whether it is keeping track of news channels playing on more than half-a-dozen TV screens or constantly browsing through Twitter to quickly respond to any distress or grievance calls, a little-known 10-member team sitting inside a small room at the force’s headquarters is a busy lot, acting as a crucial link between those in distress and the city police.

Set up in November last, the team operates round the clock in four shifts and receives on an average 6,000 complaints in a day once a user tags either the Twitter, Facebook or Instagram handles of Delhi Police, Delhi Police Commissioner, Commissioner’s Officer, Delhi Traffic Police or the district Deputy Commissioners of Police.

Instant response

Team leader Inspector Vimal Dutt said they are the first responders to any complaint posted on social media, from the likes of bank frauds, lying of unidentified bodies to traffic concerns.

“Whenever a Twitter, Facebook or Instagram user tags us informing about an incident, we get an alert and quickly deploy our manpower to work on the input. If it’s regarding an incident in a specific area, we contact the nodal officer of that district, who in turn informs the DCP and the ACP. A team is immediately dispatched to the spot to ascertain the facts. If the information is true, the team sends us an action taken report and if it’s false, we respond to the complaint or the video by stating that no such incident has taken place,” Mr. Dutt told  The Hindu.

The team’s job, he said, is especially hectic nowadays as cybercrime complaints have increased manifold. “As netizens keep increasing each day, so does the chances of their falling to a cyber fraud. We receive hundreds of complaints with users alleging that they have been duped by some website or the other, following which we forward the same to the district cyber police station concerned or to the IFSO (Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations) unit in high-profile cases,” he added.

Delhi Police Spokesperson Suman Nalwa said that Delhi Police has been monitoring handles that spread misinformation. She added: “Though social media is not a complaint mechanism, but we are taking note of general grievances posted on social media and addressing the same promptly.”

Twitter most popular

Of all the online platforms, Twitter acts as the go-to space for users to raise issues. “Our Twitter handles get the most traction and most people prefer communicating with us through the platform,” Mr. Dutt said.

One of the team members said that if a user is observed making “incendiary or anti-national posts” on a social media platform, the account information is sent to the IFSO unit, which in turn sends a takedown request to the platform.

“During communal riots, like the north-east Delhi riots or the violence in Jahangirpuri, we keep a tab on accounts and see if any mischievous activity is taking place online that might vitiate the atmosphere. As a precautionary measure, we post messages requesting people to maintain peace and harmony during such times,” he said. “We also identify habitual offenders who regularly resort to rumour-mongering on social media platforms and ask the agency concerned to prosecute them.”

Quirky messages

Posting quirky awareness messages is also part of the team’s job. “For instance, when we receive a message from the district DCP regarding a cyber fraud in their area that people are falling victim to, we ask the creative department to design a poster cautioning users against sharing OTPs and upload it on all police handles,” Mr. Dutt added.

Citing one of the recent molestation cases that it assisted in cracking, a team member said they were the first to talk to the victim in the Jor Bagh metro station molestation case and forward the same to the district concerned.

“After the woman posted her ordeal online and tagged Delhi Police, we quickly spoke to her through DM, understood the chronology of the incident and sent her case to the metro police for quick action,” the team member added.

Not only does the team respond to online posts, it also issues rebuttals to rumours and fake news broadcast by television channels. “Recently, we noticed that some TV channels were wrongly claiming that a PCR van stationed outside a former BJP leader’s house was pelted with stones. Our team quickly issued a clarification stating that the car’s glass broke due to a spinning stone from the wheel of a passing vehicle. We also maintain a general diary where we record all the incidents and the response provided to it,” he said.

Posting traffic updates daily after coordinating with the traffic police is also part of their job. “We receive inputs from the traffic police control room based in Todapur once a commuter tags us saying that there is traffic congestion on a particular stretch. We also post advisories online in cases of congestion or traffic restrictions,” another team member said.

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2022 12:20:39 pm |