Post March 5: Social media under scanner

Post March 5: Social media under scanner

The recent turmoil in Dimapur has exposed the need for law enforcement agencies to up their game in dealing with cyber crime


Morung express news
Dimapur | March 18


The recent March 5 violence of the lynching of a man accused of rape, which saw active involvement of social media is a wake-up call for the Nagaland State Government and the law enforcing agency to shed their technology inhibitions and train their eyes on having full -fledged cyber crime police stations in the State.


Since 2011, the State government had been harping on setting up cyber crime police stations in the state, given the number of increasing cases related to cyber crimes being reported. But so far, the commitment made has only been rhetoric.


Excepting Nagaland, other North East states are way ahead-having dedicated separate cyber police stations to tackle and monitor cyber related crime. Assam even has a cyber forensic laboratory and provides regular training to police personnel from the districts on cyber crime investigation.


While qualified human-power and sophisticated technology is required to tackle and curb cyber crime, given the theatre of discussion and rallying that was ongoing at social networking sites before the March 5 incident, many observed that the district administration and law enforcing agencies should have anticipated the outcome and initiated action.


Abhishek Singh, IAS and former DC Mokokchung wrote in his commentary titled ‘In defense of the Naga Blog-The Dimapur Conundrum,’ that ‘given the strong views being expressed by people on the forum since March 4, the administration and police had their task cut out.’


“It was clear that people will come on the streets and the district administration ought to have taken preventive measures to ensure the security of the Central Jail and ensuring that law and order remains in control. Thus, it’s not fair to blame a social media group for what has been an institutional and governance failure,” Singh remarked on his blog.


Graphic images and videos of the rally, the storming of the Dimapur Central Jail, and lynching of the alleged rapist went viral at WhatsApp and facebook. These depictions were picked up by the national and international media and highlighted repeatedly.


Aftermath to the March 5 violence, the state government, in damage control mode, dispatched a missive to the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to ban two social media blogging site-The Naga Blog and Naga Spear for alleged incitement of violence by its members.


Predictably, the move of the State Government to ban the two popular social media blogging site has drawn wide criticism.


Following the ban move, the Naga Blog said the ‘law enforcement agencies are flattening the entire orchard just to find a locust.’ The Naga Blog begun in 2008 and has a 60,000 members following.


Aren Changkiri, a social activist from Mokokchung remarked, ‘in a democratic society, the government had no right to gag a medium that has done more good to the society than bad.’


“Such actions also reveal the insecurity and lack of efficiency of the state government to deal with the angst of the young generation who are obviously disillusioned with the whole system,” he said.


Changkiri also said the state government should hold themselves accountable on their failure to impose cyber laws stringently while provisions are already there.


And gone are the days of house policing by parents and guardians to limit crimes as the young ambitious minds are technically too smart to be over powered by non-tetchy guardians.


“The need of a social pro-active vigilance is more relevant today with the younger generation taking up the advantages of IT in a big way, and so also its disadvantages,” Atu Zumvü, SDPO and PRO of DEF Kohima pointed out.


Zumvü is the first investigating officer from Nagaland to register the first cyber crime case in 2011 for which he was awarded the “India Cyber Cop 2011’ award by the Data Security Council of India.


The police officer said the need of a well connected state of the art-infra cyber crime stations has become a matter of inevitability in the state to counter this new form of threat. “In every police station, criminal cases now registered is attracting IT sections,” he revealed.


According to Talilula, a PHD scholar, by the act of banning social networking sites, the state government is looking in the wrong direction. “It should be understood that there are many social issues that led to the unfortunate violence and the ban is just a move to muffle voices and shift blame. Besides, if you ban one facebook page, there will be ten more such pages tomorrow,” she added.

The lure of rumors


Morung Express News
Dimapur | March 18


This is not called the Information Age for nothing. The recent March 5 incident showed us how fast news can travel and the pervasive harm it can inflict.


For days on, social media was inundated with news updates, most of which were only rumours or assumptions. While social media provided the platform and vehicle for news to travel, it was ultimately the people driving the news to the masses.


Post March 5 incident; rumours of Nagas being attacked in various cities spread like wildfire creating panic for many. Another rumour of two men being hacked to death also added to the already tense moments. They were all proven false.


Many didn’t even blink before hitting the share button, making no attempt to authenticate the news they were sharing.


“We are caught in a constant stream of information that it’s impossible not to dive in and join the conversation” Achie Humtsoe, advertising professional from Delhi remarked.


Atshele Mero, an entrepreneur from Kohima agrees. “To a large degree, we see things through the eye of social media,” she said adding, “Social media becomes our eyes to the parts of the world we cannot see.”


But then again, news and information on the internet have low shelf lives. “Because Social Media encourages impulse sharing, what you have to offer becomes redundant unless it’s fresh out of the oven” Achie maintained.


According to Visietso Yoshu, a student from Dimapur, “We have a tendency to easily speak and share something we have only heard – only because we want to be seen as the one who got hold of the news first. And in the rush to be the first, we don’t authenticate.”


Amidst the din of online whispers, one can hear Buddha’s words echo “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.”