M A I N   N E W S

Army feels the communal hatred pinch on social media
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

doctored pictures posted
A Facebook account user under the name of ‘Indian Army’ posted a communally sensitive ‘doctored’ picture recently
The picture, depicting the scene of a bomb blast in a mosque in Pakistan, was posted on Facebook claiming that it was the inside of a temple
“This was the manner in which Hindus are killed in Pakistan”, it said
There have been several other such posts on Facebook

New Delhi, November 1
Sometime in the first week of October this year, a post on social networking site Facebook startled the cyber watch group of the Army in New Delhi.

A Facebook account user under the name of “Indian Army” posted a communally sensitive “doctored” picture, giving the impression as if the Army had posted that picture.

The picture depicted the scene of a bomb blast that occurred inside a mosque in Pakistan a few months ago. The person posting the picture on Facebook had claimed that it was the scene inside a temple in Pakistan and said: “This was the manner in which Hindus are massacred in Pakistan”.

The person went on to question the logic behind holding peace talks with Pakistan. In a few days, the picture has had a few thousand people sharing it on their Facebook accounts, thus furthering the lie that it was posted by the “Indian Army”.

The Army initiated a three-pronged action. First of all, it informed Facebook about the fake account and asked it to block it.

Secondly, the Army informed the Ministry of Information Technology through the Ministry of Defence seeking action against all those masquerading as “Armed forces” or the “Indian Army”. Then, the Army got its own Facebook and Twitter accounts verified.

Army officials said people had been warned against wrongly using the name of “Indian Army” to peddle their personal agenda on Facebook. The next step would be to lodge FIRs against such persons.

Officials said the Army does not post any picture naming any community or question the government policy on any neighbour and has asked Facebook users of being alert and not to “re-post” or “share” any such communally sensitive material posted by fake users.

The issue of misuse of social networking sites also cropped up at the meeting of the National Integration Council on September 23 this year. All chief ministers attending the meeting had asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to initiate action. The Information Technology Act allows the police to book individuals spreading falsehood, but getting such content deleted is a bigger task. The servers of most websites are in Europe or in the US, thus allowing India no control over these.

“These nations interpret issues as per their conditions and explaining the matter to them takes time. Days are lost before the objectionable content is deleted,” a functionary said. The recent Muzaffarnagar riots in UP allegedly owe their origin to the murder of a youth over eve-teasing. A morphed video on the Internet, however, showed how “Hindus” were being “ill-treated” by Muslims and became one of the trigger points for the riots. A BJP MLA has been booked for uploading the video.

In August 2012, a fake video (with origin in Myanmar) was circulated showing Muslims being ill-treated by Bodos in Assam. It led to a clash in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan.

Soon after, another fake video egged one community to attack people from the North-East, leading to a mass exodus of north-easterners from Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad and Chennai.





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