Delhi Police has been effectively using social media for better public outreach besides following a four-step strategy to bust 'fake news'.
Devesh Chandra Srivastava, Joint Commissioner of Police (Licensing) said the new police leadership of Delhi deliberated upon a strategy to be put in place to effectively harness the power of social media for community outreach and to disincentivise its abuse by vested elements.
The first was to give professional teeth to efforts at "fake news detection", he said.
A dedicated section has been set up on the Delhi Police website (www.delhipolice.gov.in) on which citizens can upload suspected media for verification of its credibility.
Made user friendly and with back-end handling by server and directory level analytics operated by dedicated and trained police officers, it was the first step towards reaching out to citizens by attempting to inform them of the veracity of media content that they had found suspicious by way of text messages and e-mails as provided by a client at the time of uploading the suspect content.
A dedicated Cyber Unlawful Content Monitoring Control Room (Cyber UCM) has been monitoring cyberspace to detect illegal, criminal and grossly offensive posts over several social media platforms for initiating appropriate legal action, including the registration of FIRs and conducting subsequent investigations.
The Cyber UCM works on a 24x7 basis and has been very effective in creating a repository of repeat cyber offenders and in identifying malicious cyber actor by their usage patterns for taking appropriate action.
"With the social media handles of Delhi gaining substantial traction, a large segment of the citizens started reaching out over these platforms with various types of information, grievances, complaints and compliments. This set the stage for implementing the Cyber 112 initiative," Mr Srivastava said.
Cyber 112 monitors the social media handles of police functionaries who have a public interface and thereafter, categorises the tweets/posts addressed to the districts and units into 'Calling Immediate Response' and 'Calling Deferred Response'. The Cyber 112 Control Room, functional on a 24x7 basis, informs the District/unit formations of the issues being raised who, thereafter, frame appropriate responses meant to be released on the concerned social media platform.
Mr Srivastava said the fourth pillar of Delhi Police's social media strategy is the Cyber Perception Management Unit (Cyber PMU).
"The Cyber PMU attempts at clearing this cyber fog by bringing out the credible, official version behind a reported incident and assisting in its mass propagation by use of cyber volunteers and right-thinking of sections of the society who have a digital presence," he said.
"It is absolutely necessary in times of social media when anyone and everyone can create and propagate digital content that appropriate mechanisms to counter-propagate verified, credible and truthful content be also established. This is also understood as creating a 'positive cyber space'," he added.
Delhi police has over 5.84 lakh followers on Twitter, around 42,000 followers on Facebook. Delhi Traffic Police has over 2.84 lakh followers on Facebook and 1.3 million followers on Twitter.
Localised WhatsApp/Telegram groups have been created by District/Police Station/Beat levels to disseminate information, seek intelligence and promote public participation in good civic causes.
"These groups play an important role in resolving local issues as the office bearers of RWAs/MWAs share the grievances of the general public, which are then suitably addressed," Mr Srivastava said.
The Joint Commissioner of Police (Licensing) said Delhi Police is committed to widening its social media reach further in the coming days.
"We believe in evolving with the times and connecting with the times and connecting citizenry on every available platform. The creation of a symbiotic relationship between the community and Delhi police is what will make this endeavour a success and meaningful towards the objective of providing a safe secure and environment to the residents of Delhi in a spirit of 'Shanti, Sewa, Nyay'," he said.