Now, govt cyber cell to counter ‘negative’ news

Every time a negative narrative surfaces, a possible counter would be initiated — through press releases, briefings or press conferences, depending on the intensity or standing of the post,” said sources.

Written by Amitav Ranjan | New Delhi | Updated: February 23, 2016 6:43 am

THE GOVERNMENT plans to set up a special media cell to track content online, and counter news and comments that it decides are negative or provocative.

Last month, the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) proposed that a National Media Analytics Centre (NMAC) be created to keep monitor and analyse round-the-clock blogs, web portals of TV channels and newspapers, and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, among others.

“The government will keep a watch on the narrative in all such threads. Every time a negative narrative surfaces, a possible counter would be initiated — through press releases, briefings or press conferences, depending on the intensity or standing of the post,” said sources.

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Last August, the government had directed all ministries to set up quick response teams — comprising senior ministry officials, nodal officers from the Press Information Bureau and independent experts — to defend its case in the face of negative news.

Sources said that the NMAC proposal is based on tracking software designed by Ponnurangam Kumaraguru, an Assistant Professor at Delhi-based Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology.

The software will generate relevant tags to highlight “belligerent” comments or social media chats, they added.
At a deeper level, the software would comb posts and comments to classify them into negative, neutral and positive categories while highlighting relevant text, sources said. It will also show up if the negative posting was factually correct or “an intentional canard”, they said.

“The software would also help recall the past pattern of the writer to check the number of times he took a negative or positive stand, his background, and preferences of websites and areas of interest to judge whether they were aimed at fomenting trouble or radicalisation,” said sources.

They said the objective is to come up with “instant counters” on social media to plug resentment triggered by news items so that personal opinions do not snowball into public protests and threaten law and order.

The feedback on covert or overt posts would be passed on to security agencies or higher authorities for possible intervention, they said.

The NMAC proposal suggests an inter-ministerial committee of officials from NSCS and the Home, I&B and External Affairs ministries for analysis, coordination, information dissemination and feedback on public perception and national security.

The NMAC would be the third observation post for the NDA government after the New Media Wing, the online eyes and ears providing daily reports on the world of social media, and the Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC) that monitor 600-plus channels round the clock.

As reported by The Indian Express on August 29, the 200 content auditors at EMMC sends hourly reports and text messages of news breaking on any channel to top bureaucrats including the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, the National Security Advisor and the Cabinet Secretary.

The New Media Wing trawls websites, including micro blogs, as well as traffic relating to news breaks on the social media sites to pick up government relevant trends. It then undertakes a “sentiment analysis” to gauge public opinion.

The proposal for NMAC was sent to PIB director-general Frank Noronha by Deputy National Security Advisor Arvind Gupta for setting it up at the National Media Centre, said sources. However, they added, a four-member committee formed to examine the proposal has opposed locating it at NMAC due to “lack of space”.

When contacted, Noronha declined to comment on the contours of the NMAC. Gupta and Kumaraguru did not respond to an emailed questionnaire or answer phone calls seeking comment.

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  1. H
    HarshL
    Feb 24, 2016 at 1:38 pm
    2 2=5
    Reply
    1. H
      HarshL
      Feb 24, 2016 at 1:38 pm
      2 plus 2 equals 5
      Reply
      1. M
        MyTake
        Feb 23, 2016 at 1:31 am
        Now the sickulars will be up in arms they are losing their privacy!
        Reply
        1. M
          MyTake
          Feb 23, 2016 at 1:26 am
          Why can't the Govt. have its own TV channels where intelligent and smart speakers can come together, can have civil and intelligent debates. Also have its own news media where it can give the information on positive things it is doing. This will leave the non-performing ones high and dry!
          Reply
          1. R
            Raje
            Feb 23, 2016 at 6:48 am
            This is a very good move to contradict the LIES spread by people like Barkha, Sardesai, Ravish, Sagarika Ghose, Rana Ayub, Nidhi Razada and newspapers like I-E, HT, The hindu, Telegraph and such.
            Reply
            1. R
              Raje
              Feb 23, 2016 at 7:33 pm
              This should have done in 2014 itself, 6 months after NDA was elected. But beter late than never. The way w drama is going on weekly basis is a clear indication that they want only negativity in EYES and EARS of Indians, showing what bad decision we did for voting MODI. I dont care or i am not afraid of taking NAMES. They are known middlemen p-i-m-p thullas, we all know.
              Reply
              1. S
                Subodh
                Feb 23, 2016 at 2:16 am
                Also all those who fabricate facts, how are they going to be tackled? This also important as most of the MSM are telling lies and when confronted, brazen it out. There has to be consequences when telling lies.
                Reply
                1. S
                  Saurabh
                  Feb 23, 2016 at 6:10 am
                  To have much extend will this govt go to suppress truth
                  Reply
                  1. C
                    C Siddarth
                    Feb 23, 2016 at 6:44 pm
                    Such a hopelessly insecure government. 1st time I'm seeing someone so paranoid about expressing opinions. Maybe they've realized they cannot impress people with good governance anymore
                    Reply
                    1. S
                      Sudesh
                      Feb 23, 2016 at 2:37 pm
                      Canada. It is very good move on the part of Indian Government. At international level the Government need to pay attention to the BBC coverage of India.For a very long time the British media has been attacking India and projecting a very negative image.Any small insignificance item is blown out of proportion and reported as if nothing good Is happening in India.
                      Reply
                      1. A
                        ambrish
                        Feb 23, 2016 at 6:15 pm
                        WE KNOW MEDIA DELIBERATELY MISLEADS PEOPLE, OFTEN DOCTORS INFORMATION AND SPREADS LIES BECAUSE OF THEIR POLITICAL PATRONAGE. THEY SHOULD BE LIABLE AND PUNISHABLE FOR THEIR ACTS AND SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO HIDE UNDER FREEDOM OF SPEECH OR INFORMATION. UNLESS STRICTER LAWS ON THE BOOK THEY WILL CONTINUE TO MISBEHAVE.
                        Reply
                        1. X
                          Xxpugo
                          Feb 23, 2016 at 1:21 pm
                          I guess it's a right step if it controls chaos caused by rumours, wrong perceptions, bad thoughts and doesn't suppress the living at the same. Folded hands to see how it works :)
                          Reply
                          1. X
                            Xxpugo
                            Feb 23, 2016 at 1:30 pm
                            I second your thought sir
                            Reply
                            1. X
                              Xxpugo
                              Feb 23, 2016 at 1:37 pm
                              One more like :)
                              Reply
                              1. X
                                Xxpugo
                                Feb 23, 2016 at 1:31 pm
                                Please don't involve any names :) and yes i agree that it's a very good move sir
                                Reply
                                1. X
                                  Xxpugo
                                  Feb 23, 2016 at 1:36 pm
                                  Yeah Saurabh why not see the positive side and why always negative side ? what if it will be helpful :)
                                  Reply
                                  1. S
                                    Santrupt
                                    Feb 23, 2016 at 2:41 am
                                    The question is, how will the bhakt army operate? or will the software have a bhakt exception. Anyways, the kind of 'expertise' BJP has, it will take years to come up with such a software.
                                    Reply
                                    1. G
                                      George Cv
                                      Feb 23, 2016 at 6:36 am
                                      It is indeed the Big Brother ! Beware !!
                                      Reply
                                      1. A
                                        A. M.
                                        Feb 23, 2016 at 5:25 am
                                        Zee news is an expert in doctoring video clips to further the bharat Jalao party's agenda. That is the bjp TV.
                                        Reply
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                                          Amit Kumar
                                          Feb 23, 2016 at 1:56 pm
                                          The government is doing good by encouraging the use of sarcasm. We better get used to writing things that will p the inverse Turing test.
                                          Reply
                                          1. J
                                            Jacob Chacko
                                            Feb 23, 2016 at 1:51 pm
                                            Now that we have a ministry to check blogs, comments and articles and clify them into positive, neutral and negative it looks like we are sinking into an Orwellian state. Wonder if comments with sickular, pressute etc will now be considered ' positive' or 'negative'?
                                            Reply
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