UP Police Raises 'Digital Army' Of 3.6 Lakh Volunteers To Tackle Fake News

| July 20 , 2018 , 17:20 IST

Fake news has wrecked havoc in recent times, with unsubstantial rumours spreading like wildfire over social media resulting in lynchings across the nation. While WhatsApp is taking action to target fake news, by marking forwarded messages as 'forwards' and limiting the number of shares of a given post, Uttar Pradesh is taking matters into its own hands.

The Uttar Pradesh police is raising a contingent of over 3,67,000 digital volunteers to counter fake news on social media platforms that is “creating a law-and-order problem” and “disturbing communal harmony” in the state, director general of police OP Singh said on Thursday.

According to the DGP, this “digital army” will consist of 250 volunteers from each of the 1,469 police station zones across the state.

“It will counter fake news being spread on social media by anti-social elements. Rumours incite people of different communities and create a law-and-order problem,” Singh said to media.

“The plan has been initiated in view of the deaths of innocent people across the state as well the country due to false news and rumours on WhatsApp and other social media platforms,” he said.

DGP Singh said that the move was taken by the BJP-led UP government after the centre reaching out to messaging platform WhatsApp to take action to curb fake news.

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Fake videos and rumours of child-lifting have already led to mob lynchings across at least 8 states this year.

Apart from the police station volunteers, the UP Police has also uploaded a “digital volunteer form” on its website to select digital volunteers. The selection of digital volunteers would be made by selection committees consisting of district police chiefs, additional SPs, circle officers and station houses officers (SHOs) of the police stations.

Samajwadi Party spokesman Abdul Hafiz Gandhi added support to the initiative.

“If the government takes any initiative to check fake news, we have no objection to it. Socially responsible and trusted people should be roped in to curb fake news. It’s a very sensitive issue,” he said.