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Social media helpline of Mumbai Police might not be a good idea

What do you want me to do? LEAVE? Then they'll keep being wrong

Mumbai police has set up Mumbai Cyber Lab (MCL) and a helpline to monitor inaccurate social media posts that might lead to communal violence like in Pune. (hat tip: Mihir Bijur) The Times of India writes that you can call or SMS the information to 9820810007 to "alert about any wrong internet /posting related matters." The objective is to take action on the offensive information before it does further damage. What is offensive? While the move might be well intentioned, this is Mumbai police we are talking about. The same guys who arrested two women in 2012 for questioning on Facebook a bandh after the death of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray. Can such an organization distinguish between posts that are offensive and criticism? Maharashtra Police had also warned people against liking objectionable content online. A police force with no clear directive apart from "stop spread of misinformation" can use these powers to curb free speech rather than to curb violence that may arise from such incorrect information.There needs to be a law or even a directive limiting the sort of situations such a team should interfere in. For example, criticizing the actions of a politician based on inaccurate information might be offensive to the followers of his political party. If members of this offended party behave like hooligans and goes on a violent spree then will the police hold the rioters accountable? Or will they blame it all on the alleged social media update and let these offenders off…

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