For the first time, the Chennai police have formed a core team to exclusively monitor activity in the social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter.
The team headed by a Joint Commissioner of Police will work in coordination with Central/State intelligence agencies, police sources said on Wednesday.
In a week, police will have a Facebook account to interact with users on various issues. Besides monitoring openly available content, it would use the medium to disseminate information relevant to the public, including tips on crime-prevention and traffic conditions.
“The idea is to have a feel of public perception on Chennai police. The dedicated team will monitor the social media and intervene whenever any suspicious activity comes to notice. There should be no room in the public domain for any objectionable material that can disrupt peace or trigger tension in society,” a senior police official said.
Commissioner of Police S. George convened a meeting of senior police officials to discuss the issue on Wednesday. It was decided that the core team would also work on developing and launching a website for the Chennai Police.
“Monitoring the social media does not mean that the police will intrude into anybody’s account or access details. The objective is mainly to keep tabs on anti-social elements and prevent the spread of hate campaign or messages that can hurt the sentiments of people,” the official said.
Referring to agitations preceding the voting to the US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka in the United Nations Human Council, he said certain organisations used social networking sites to garner support, organise protests and spread messages.
“They formed groups and communicated the place, nature and time of protests…in the process gory photographs of war crimes were published. Some messages were intended to whip up anger against Sri Lankan citizens or establishments in the State.”
Inspector-General of Police (Internal Security) Abash Kumar said the social media could be a potential source of information which intelligence agencies were closely monitoring. There were instances when police warned users to delete offensive contents. “Under the provisions of the Information Technology Act, we can even ask the service provider to remove the content or even the account of the person concerned. Even if a fake account is activated, it would be possible to locate the user,” he said, adding that the police would not encroach upon the privacy of Net users.