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Post-polls, cops on toes to monitor inflammatory content on networking sites; 7 accounts blocked

The counting of votes cast for the 13th Maharashtra Assembly elections led to pitiful performance by some parties.

Written by Gautam Sandip Mengle | Mumbai |
October 22, 2014 6:18:30 am

The Mumbai Police’s Social Media Lab, which was formed to keep an eye on potentially troublesome pages on social networking websites, has been scanning social media for “jokes” concerning candidates, who fared poorly in the recent Vidhan Sabha election. Action was taken against some miscreants, police said.

“From Sunday till Tuesday, we have blocked seven accounts found to be responsible for offensive political content on the internet. We will continue to maintain a strict vigil on social media,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detection) Dhananjay Kulkarni.

The counting of votes cast for the 13th Maharashtra Assembly elections led to pitiful performance by some parties, with some candidates who were expecting to win in state losing in huge majority. This led to people sharing jokes in the form of images of the candidates with offensive captions.

The pictures were subsequently uploaded on social networking websites and also on messaging applications like WhatsApp. Police sources said some of these pictures were circulated even before the counting process ended.

As soon as these pictures began to be circulated on social media, the lab swung into action on Sunday.

“We started keeping a strict vigil on all social networking websites, as we knew that if circulated widely, such images could lead to violent backlash from activists of parties concerned,” said a senior officer with the Mumbai Police.

The lab, which falls under the purview of police’s special branch, also started tracing the source of such jokes, which were either users or pages created by them. The lab is authorised to recommend to the Cyber Crime Investigation Cell that certain accounts or pages be blocked in order to prevent law and order problems.

An officer added that there was no mechanism was in place to curb the flow of such content on WhatsApp, and the police had to restrict themselves to just keeping a watch on such content.

“Our sources forward us such content as soon as it reaches them so that we can at least be aware that troublesome content is being circulated and inform the police stations or agencies concerned to be alert, depending on the content,” the officer said.

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