Photograph: Dado Ruvic/Reuters
To curb incidents of lynching and violence due to fake news on social media, the Uttar Pradesh police will set up ‘Digital Armies’ of prominent residents to keep a strict vigil on inflammatory posts and rumour-mongering.
As part of the initiative, all the 1,469 police stations in the state will have a WhatsApp group consisting of 250 members including ex-servicemen, teachers, doctors, advocates and journalists among others, UP Director General of Police O P Singh said.
These ‘digital volunteers’ will inform their local police station if they stumble upon fake news on the social media and at the same time, disseminate correct information among the locals to curb the spread of rumours, he added.
“A WhatsApp group will be formed at every police station level. The group will have 250 members, who will share with the police various information, rumours, photographs and videos of their respective area,” Singh said.
“Each of the 1,469 police station will be having the digital volunteers linked through WhatsApp. The group operating at the police station level will be linked to the district WhatsApp group, which would be linked to UP DGP,” he added.
On one hand, social media has ushered in communication revolution, while on the other, anti-social elements misuse it to spread rumours by spreading fake news, photographs and videos, Singh noted.
The move comes in the wake of the Central government directions to take effective steps to stop the spread of the rumours and fake news, Singh said.
According to the state police, the application forms to become a digital volunteer are available on their website uppolice.gov.in.
A district level committee under the superintendent of police will select the volunteers and at least two of them will be selected from each ward, locality and village.