The Telangana government is closely monitoring social media for “ghosts” who distribute or post fake news or “inappropriate content”. The director-general of the Telangana Police Department (DGP), M. Mahender Reddy, warned that such persons would be used “in order to arouse public emotions”.

A couple of days ago, Reddy tweeted about this and said, “People have been observed to abuse the social media platforms during this lockdown. The public is requested not to post / distribute inappropriate content on social media. Telangana Police are closely monitoring social media for the gossip / rabble rousing. Strict measures are being taken against them in order to spark emotions in the public, which is already under pressure.

Recently, with the second surge in the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown in Telangana, there has been an increase in misinformation and fake news. Reddy’s news comes in the face of a video from Gujarat allegedly broadcast by some social media addresses alleging the incident occurred in Hyderabad.

The news comes at a time when misinformation about Covid-19 and related issues is widespread and both the Indian government and local administrations are armed against it. While misinformation needs to be addressed and nipped in the bud, several restrictions imposed by local and Indian authorities have raised questions about restricting freedom of expression.

For example, in April 2021, Twitter censored 52 tweets mainly criticizing the country’s handling of the second surge in Covid-19 while complying with requests from the Indian government. In the same month, local authorities such as Jabalpur County Council in Madhya Pradesh imposed restrictions on pandemic-related items. The administration of Indore also restricted comments and redirects related to the coronavirus on social media.

Spread fake news in Telangana

Speaking to MediaNama, Konatham Dileep, director of the Digital Media Wings of Telangana’s information technology, electronics and communications division, said: “The spread of fake news on social media platforms has increased since the second surge in Covid-19 and the lockdown. This fake news is twofold – municipal and Covid-19 misinformation. The environment is already polluted due to the pandemic and lockdown. Now, such fake news can lead to other public policy-related problems. ”

The digital media wing has worked with Telangana police to identify such fake news circulating on social media. The police will be alerted upon identification. In the coming days, the IT department plans to team up with more fact checkers to keep an eye on such content.

A few days ago a forged newsletter was posted on behalf of Telangana Public Health Director Dr. GS Rao, circulated. A complaint has been filed with the police on the matter.

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In April, a fake government order was posted on social media that said the Telangana government had initiated the state lockdown. Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar’s office had to clear the matter up in a tweet that said, “An unsigned document is circulating on social media claiming to be a GO issued on April 1st and shop closings and commercial establishments. It is made clear that the document is FAKE and NO such GO was issued by the government of Telangana. ”A chartered accountant was arrested by the Hyderabad police a few days later in this context.

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