Covid-19: No escape for cyber crooks as police tightens net to control fake news

Police from various states are acting quickly to curb fake news, hate speech and misinformation on social media

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Fake news is fast emerging as the biggest menace amidst the coronavirus during the 21-day lockdown in the country. The Maharashtra Cyber police unit has said that since the lockdown was issued on March 25, it has registered a total of 132 cases regarding fake news, rumours and hate speech over social media in the state. Out of the total 132 cases, 49 were related to hate speech over social media. 35 of the accused were arrested and another 28 had been identified in the matter.

16 cases were recorded from Beed, 13 from Kolhapur, 11 from Pune rural, 9 from Mumbai, 8 from Jalna, 7 from Satara, 7 from Jalgaon, 6 from rural Nashik, 4 from Nagpur city, 5 from Nashik city, 4 from Thane, 4 from Nanded, 3 from Gondia, Bhandara and Ratnagiri, 2 from Parbhani, Amravati, Nandurbar and 1 each from Latur, Osmanabad and Hingoli.

In a tweet posted yesterday, April 8, it said that between the 24 hours of April 7 and April 8, 20 new First Information Reports (FIRs) were registered in the state.

It also said that out of the 20 cases registered, 14 were communal in nature and six were related to rumours about the Covid-19 pandemic. The cyber unit said that that it had seen an upward swing in hate speech and communal crimes in social media in the past five days.

Maharashtra State Superintendent of Police (Cyber), Balsing Rajput too verified the numbers. The cases that have been registered against the perpetrators in the state were for spreading fake news through WhatsApp (79 cases), Facebook (24), Twitter (3), TikTok (30), youTube and audio clips (23) and two non-cognizable offences, cited various media reports.

Apart from Maharashtra, the Meghalaya Police which has now started a fake news verification portal registered four cases against individuals for spreading fake news on Covid-19. Speaking to NE Now, IGP Meghalaya GK Iangrai said, “Despite several appeals to the general public to refrain from propagating or circulating false news/rumours relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, through social media or any other medium, some individuals have disregarded the appeal and uploaded/posted contents which were found to be fake news.”

“In this connection, three cases have been registered in Cyber Crime Police Station and 1 case has been registered in Williamnagar police station against rumour mongers, under the relevant previsions of IPC, Information Technology Act and National Disaster Management Act,” he added.

“Out of the 4 cases, 3 cases have been registered after the applications, which have been received through the Fake News Verification Portal, have been verified to be fake news,” he said in a statement.

In Assam, as on April 8, 2020, 59 cases were registered 33 people were arrested, more than 130 people were counseled and more than 140 posts had been pulled down.


Maharashtra Cyber Police issues advisory for WhatsApp users and admins to curb fake news
All who spread fake news and incite communal hate will face strict action: Jharkhand DGP




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