The Punjab Police on Wednesday said it has got 38 Facebook, 49 Twitter and 21 YouTube accounts and links blocked for spreading fake news on the coronavirus crisis. "A total of 151 accounts/links of Facebook, 100 of Twitter, four of Instagram and 37 of YouTube have been reported to the authorities concerned, with 121 FIRs registered so far at various police stations across Punjab," the state government said in a statement.
Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta said the force had taken up the matter of blocking the accounts of "anti-national" and "anti-social" elements with the Cyber Law Division of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, following which 108 accounts and links have been blocked. Further action on the remaining accounts is awaited, he said.
Mr Gupta said the social media platforms have been asked to give information of the users. Legal action will be taken against the miscreants under the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Indian Penal Code as soon as they are identified, the police officer said.
Arpit Shukla, Director Bureau of Investigations, said the State Cyber Crime Cell, Punjab, has asked people not to share any kind of unverified or fake posts, news, videos or stories on COVID-19 on social media.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had ordered the crackdown amid widespread rumour-mongering and spread of fake news on social media, intentionally to spread misinformation. Videos are being uploaded by anti-social elements to incite the public in the name of "human organ trade during COVID-19", the statement said.
A wave of misinformation is being spread through various social media platforms that doctors and paramedics are falsely declaring people COVID-19 positive and then taking out their organs for monetary benefits, it said.
"These obnoxious posts/videos on social media are not only defamatory to the state government and doctors, but are also seen discouraging people from testing and treatment for COVID-19 from various health facilities," the statement said.