The Hindu, March 17
Bid to understand pulse of citizenry
The Mumbai police on Saturday inaugurated the country’s first ‘Social Media Lab’ to monitor the happenings on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
The police have termed this an important step which will help them keep an eye on issues being discussed among youth on the Internet and to bridge the gap between the expectations of the public and delivery of police services.
Inaugurating the 24X7 lab, Commissioner of Police Satyapal Singh said its purpose was not to invoke censorship on discussions of various subjects, but only to analyse them.
“The youth protest at India Gate after the [December 2012] gang rape in Delhi was mainly fuelled by discussions on social networking sites. Taking a clue from that, we thought that the traditional sources of information do not sometimes give the correct picture of societal needs and misgivings and hence we decided to set up the country’s first social media lab.”
Dr. Singh said the lab’s primary work would be to understand the pulse of the citizenry and to prepare “ourselves for it.” “Till now, we haven’t ever tried to understand what is happening on the Internet, but now is the time to change that.” The lab would assimilate relevant information from all open sources in the public domain and 20 specially trained officers would work in shifts.
The project is supported by the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) and is funded by Reliance Foundation. Actor Abhishek Bachchan, who was present, called the formation of the lab a proactive step from the police.
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