As the Mumbai police were putting the finishing touches to a radical new plan of keeping tabs on activists using social media, two brutal rapes shook the city.
Come Saturday, and the police will be able to track — in real-time — every tweet, post on your Facebook wall and email with a first-of-its-kind social media lab. It will monitor all online content and can simultaneously capture what’s trending on several social media platforms.
Simply put, it can ‘judge’ the mood of Internet users.
This decision to focus on social media posts comes even as a 23-year-old woman was allegedly gang raped by four men in Vile Parle (E) late on Wednesday while her companion was held at knife-point. Around the same time, a transgender was allegedly raped by four men and burned with cigarette butts in a car on LBS Road.
Recent rapes, particularly, the Delhi gang rape, had sparked nationwide outrage as details went viral in the social media universe. It is exactly this outrage that police hope the lab will pre-empt. “If people’s ire against an incident is trending and they’re planning a protest against it, then the lab will be able to monitor this and give us real-time updates on people’s mood,” explains a senior police officer. “This will help us tackle any untoward or violent incident.”
Sources admit the idea of such a lab was born after the Delhi gang rape.
Search engines like Google and Bing have been incorporated in the lab’s system and every day, fresh keywords will be fed in. Based on these keywords, the search engines will give minute-by-minute results.
No person will directly monitor individual content online. “The data generated by computers will be analysed by 20 policemen, who were trained by Google engineers for over three months,” adds the officer. The reports will be shared with police across the country if trends are alarming.