Online media was abuzz lately with news about an objectionable picture of Sonia Gandhi being posted online. While investigations into the matter is still in progress, what the incident shows is the possibility to misuse online and social media space. Couple of months back, the Mumbai Police became the first city police in the country to setup a Social Media Lab, which the authorities plan to use to keep an eye out for miscreants in the online world.
The newly formed Social Media Lab (SML) of the Mumbai Police that will be used by the authorities to monitor Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites has partnered with a Delhi-based startup SocialAppsHQ to use their tool for its work. The tool can be used for doing sentiment analysis, topical analysis and understand what people’s reaction are to a particular topic. The tool can also mine data by tracking conversations/instances of buzz around a particular keyword. This could be useful when we have to understand the sentiment on social media for new policies/decisions made by the government authorities.
SML was started by Mumbai Police in March 2013 and is the first such lab of its kind among the police forces of the country. SML was formed to help the Mumbai Police gauge public mood and expectations and help them be prepared and better equipped to respond promptly to any concerns or aspirations of the citizens in a better way.“With an increasing percentage of country’s population present on social media websites, it has become extremely important to gauge the public mood on social media channels. Capturing and understanding public opinion on various issues and policies is very important for the smooth functioning of the democracy. With the monitoring tool coming into picture, it will become very easy for Mumbai police to look at the complete picture and understand the gravity of public reaction as well as be prepared for potential law and order issues in future,” said Rajat Garg, CEO, SocialAppsHQ.com
When the news about the setup of the lab was made public, there were concerns about the role the lab becoming a snoop mechanism for the police online. While concrete use of the lab is yet to be seen, it is heartening to see a startup tool being used for its efforts.
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