Hate Posts on Social Media: Bengal Takes Welcome ActionThe West Bengal government has asked the DGP and directed the cyber cells of the Kolkata and state police to crack down upon miscreants who are spreading rumours and are otherwise uploading hate posts on social media. This is a step in the right direction, if implemented properly.
By Sunil Garodia
One says this because often in the past, governments are known to take unkindly to criticisms of their own policies and actions and have brutally cracked down upon innocent bloggers who just express their honest opinions. The Bengal governments track record on this score is not unblemished for in the past it had arrested a professor for forwarding a cartoon lampooning the chief minister Mamata Banerjee. If it happens this time too, it would be an attack on the freedom of speech and hence unfortunate.
Having said this, it also needs to be reiterated that social media has become the hotbed of misinformation and hate posts, mischievous and slanted to achieve nefarious objectives. While most of the posts are forwarded by receivers without any malicious intent, the origin of these hate posts need to be traced as that is where the mischief is being generated. Hence, in any police investigation, care needs to be taken in not shooting the postman. The Bengal police have detected a pattern in these posts and traced them to a few people. This suggests that this is the handiwork of habitual pamphleteers and needs to be traved and eliminated.
In the past, police investigations have hit roadblocks as many IP addresses from where these hate posts originate are found to be in foreign countries. Still, since Facebook and Twitter are mostly used for such damaging posts, the police have streamlined regulatory information exchange mechanism with these companies. It is good that the police and the government have woken up to the fact that slanted and engineered posts on social media have the potential of starting conflicts between communities.
But in a state where the Imam of a mosque gets away with issuing a highly objectionable fatwa against the prime minister of the country, that too in the presence of a leader of the ruling party, such a crack down on social media posts will seem one-sided. The government should also crack down on all shades of people, regardless of their religious affiliation, for making inflammatory remarks on dignitaries. Political differences should not come in the way of booking a person for such objectionable remarks or fatwas.