GUWAHATI, May 28 - It can be dangerous to trust news circulated through social media, without verifying the authenticity of the sources of it, said Additional Director General of Assam Police, Harmeet Singh. He also said that the Assam Police has been sensitizing the citizenry on the proper use of cyber space. While this has yielded a good response, there have also been several cases where action had to be taken against persons for spreading rumours and hate messages through social media.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Singh, who also heads �Nagri Mitra�, the Social Media Center of the Assam Police, admitted that it would be risky if people start believing all the news circulated through social media as authentic without verifying the source. He expressed the view that anyone who wants to follow news through social media should only trust the Twitter handles or Facebook pages of recognized news agencies, newspapers or news channels. �There are numerous instances of spreading of fake news by mischievous elements through social media and people should not believe all news circulated through it,� he added.
Singh said that social media and digital technology are mediums of the future and one should not look at them negatively or try to control their growth, but all sections of people should use it properly and responsibly. He said that apart from using social media to educate the people on different issues including responsible use of technology, the Assam Police has been organizing seminars and workshops on the issue. He said that one such workshop was organized in collaboration with Whatsapp, while, two other such workshops are planned with Twitter and Facebook to sensitize the people.
Replying to a question on misuse of the social media, Singh said that such cases are mostly incident based and efforts are on to keep scanning the social media by the police. He said that only in two cases, internet services had to be blocked in Assam so far. The first instance was after the killing of two artistes in Karbi Anglong when the internet services had to be blocked for a very brief period and the second instance was the recent blocking of the internet in the Barak valley after outbreak of violence in Hailakandi. �So far we had only two instances in Assam where internet services had to be blocked. In some other states of the country, internet services have had to be blocked on several occasions. This would not be the case if all of us citizens use the medium responsibly� he added.
Singh admitted that in several instances police had to take legal action against persons involved in spreading hate messages through social media. But when the cases were not serious in nature or youngsters were involved, police called them to sensitize them about the proper use of social media instead of taking legal action. He also expressed the view that parental control is necessary while allowing young children to use the internet.�
The senior police officer further said that social media can be and is used for very positive purposes, adding that in case of any emergency, social media can certainly be used positively for the benefit of the populace.