Lucknow: 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, told PTI.
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.
More recently, during the attacks on members of Tabhlighi Jammat on a train in Shamli district, the incident was posted on social networking sites as “Godhra Again” and even began trending after a few hours.
The government is of the view that social media was becoming a “lethal weapon” and needed to be monitored round-the-clock, according to the sources.
In view of the rapid change in the pattern of crimes, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has been encouraging use of latest techniques to tackle the situation, they said.
As part of his government's efforts to upgrade the police system, Yadav had sometime back said five new forensic labs will be set up in different parts of the state.
He also said state-of-the-art control rooms will be set up in Lucknow, Ghaziabad and Allahabad.
Yadav said there is need to provide latest information and techniques to police personnel to meet modern day needs in the fast-changing scenario.
The latest innovative measure was deployment of drones by Lucknow police to monitor and control crowds and installation of CCTV cameras at vantage points in the state capital.