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‘With great power, comes great responsibility.’

The internet has immense power when one needs to spread a message. But many times, this power is misused to spread communal provocation and hate messages on social media platforms. This idea was floated to pre-empt repeated communal violence triggered by hate posts in districts like Bareilly, Firozabad, and Moradabad districts in the recent past. For instance, a hate post circulated on WhatsApp messenger sparked tension in Saharanpur. Before that, messages on the Dadri incident where a Muslim man was lynched on suspicion of having eaten beef led to tension in the Gautam Buddh Nagar district, were circulated to pass on incorrect information.

Uttar Pradesh government has taken some radical measures to counter rumours, wrong information, and objectionable messages which are passed on and made ‘viral’. Uttar Pradesh police have decided to hire ‘Digital Volunteers’, who are active on social media platforms and will curb communally provocative propaganda by circulating the correct information and contradicting rumours. Akhilesh Yadav, the young CM of Uttar Pradesh has always focused on using technology for better administration, and this initiative too was well appreciated by the officials.

The Director General of Police, UP, Javed Ahmad said, “ ‘Digital Volunteers’ will be picked up from among those who are well versed with the use of various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, and Google Plus among others. They will be and treated as special police officers (SPO) and made members of peace committees. Policemen active in social media will assist and coordinate with these volunteers.”

The state is also setting up two special media labs, one in Meerut and Lucknow each, on Digital CM’s instructions. These will monitor the various social media platforms and act promptly to block provocative and objectionable stuff. The ‘Originator’ of the objectionable post can also be identified and an FIR will be lodged against the same under the IT Act and IPC.