Police closely tracking communally sensitive social media content

A six-member technically strong police team is monitoring the Social Media Monitoring Cell

February 23, 2022 07:03 pm | Updated 11:15 pm IST - MANGALURU

Police Commissioner N. Shashi Kumar and Deputy Commissioner of Police Hariram Shankar interacting with personnel at the newly created cell to monitor social media posts in Mangaluru.

Police Commissioner N. Shashi Kumar and Deputy Commissioner of Police Hariram Shankar interacting with personnel at the newly created cell to monitor social media posts in Mangaluru. | Photo Credit: Raghava M.

A day after the murder of Bajrang Dal activist Harsha in Shivamogga on Sunday night, the Social Media Monitoring Cell of the police here noticed posts on social media by a group of students of a college on M.G. Road planning to take out a demonstration demanding action against Harsha’s assailants.

The personnel of the cell immediately alerted their higher-ups who initiated action to secure and warn students who had created the post and also those who had shared it. Then, Police Commissioner N. Shashi Kumar led a route march that passed through the college and other main areas in the central parts of the city.

This is among the actions taken based on the work of a six-member technically strong team that is part of the Social Media Monitoring Cell that has been toiling for the last two months.

Apart from social media accounts of over 100 political and other organisations, this newly created cell is monitoring Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Telegram and other social media accounts of more than 1,000 individuals. These accounts include those that have booked earlier for hate speech.

“We are working on starting a fact-check desk that will give real facts to the people”Hariram ShankarDeputy Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), Mangaluru

“We are closely monitoring such activity on a daily basis. We have succeeded in intruding into such groups to keep a close watch on activities of those spreading hate,” Police Commissioner N. Shashi Kumar said.

Hitherto, social media was being monitored by personnel at the police control room and those from the city special branch. “We have now created a dedicated cell for taking effective action on social media posts which have created a lot of unrest in Dakshina Kannada in the past,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Hariram Shankar.

We have succeeded in intruding into such groups to keep a close watch on activities of those spreading hate, says Police Commissioner N. Shashi Kumar
Earlier, Mr. Kumar led a route march that passed through a college and other main areas in the central parts of the city

The monitoring work is divided into four parts. While a set of personnel monitors the activity of organisations, another group monitors the activity of individuals. There are personnel assigned to monitor posts related to law and order and also those on news portals. Daily reports are generated and placed before Mr. Kumar, Mr. Shankar and Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime and Traffic) B.P. Dinesh Kumar.

“We are using some open source softwares that help in monitoring online activity,” Mr. Shankar said and added that the personnel have received orientation from officers from the State Intelligence.

Apart from helping initiate action against those inciting communal hatred by using fake identities and SIM cards, the monitoring cell is contributing to police work in preventing likely law and order problems. “We are working on starting a fact-check desk that will give real facts to the people,” Mr. Shankar said and added that skills of the personnel are being continuously updated.

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