Crackdown on fake news: Delhi Police remove 120 posts, social media handles

New Delhi: While enforcing strict lockdown in the national Capital, another major challenge for the Delhi Police is to fight fake news, rumours and communal messages which are being circulated through various social media platforms.

According to Cyber Prevention, Awareness & Detection Centre (CyPAD) unit of the Delhi Police, from north-east Delhi riots to Coronavirus pandemic, they have removed 120 posts and social media handles which were involved in spreading hatred, rumour, fake news related to government policies to fight COVID-19.

A senior cyber cell official said that 50 per cent of such posts and accounts were removed from Twitter. "Apart from this, fake news, sensitive posts and videos were removed from Facebook, Tik Tok and YouTube," an official said, adding that they will write to social media platforms for removal of accounts and fake messages.

Police said that they have identified suspects who have circulated such messages but unfortunately, they are unable to proceed with the investigation due to the ongoing lockdown. "These messages were posted from randomly created accounts. We can't say whether handlers of these accounts have some political motivation. It is part of the investigation," the officer said. Meanwhile, the Delhi Police during the lockdown have arrested several people, including two Jamia Millia Islamia students in connection with the north-east Delhi riots. A senior officer said that arrests were made after proper investigation in the case.

According to a senior official, they have found cases where people are finding unique ways to spread hate or fake messages and at the same time pretend that they are the ones who want to report to messages. "For instance, there have been cases where a person has posted some fake news or hate messages through a profile and another person shared it with his own profile achieving objectives of spreading a hate message and escaping police scrutiny," official added.

Another official said that various posts targeting any religion and fake messages related to government policies were removed. "In the present situation, people should rely on government official websites or their official social media verified handles for correct information. Do not share anything which is unverified and it may raise alarm in public and in certain cases it can be an offence also," said Deputy Commissioner of Police (CyPAD) Anyesh Roy.

On March 1, the Delhi Police had received more than 1,800 distress calls from people panicked over riot-related rumours. The law enforcement agency arrested over 20 people in the case. The CyPAD has arrested one Abhishek Shukla who was spreading rumours.

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