Coronavirus outbreak: It's April 1, be careful of what you forward on social media today

Updated: Apr 01, 2020, 07:36 IST | Anurag Kamble, Vishal Singh | Mumbai

Check twice before posting any fake message or misinformation about Coronavirus, as the police could file cases against you

Representational picture
Representational picture

The Maharashtra police have been keeping an eye on social media and messenger services like WhatsApp, to stop rumour mongers from posting fake messages and misinformation about Coronavirus, with a focus on April Fool's Day today.

The Home ministry has also ordered them to crack down on rumour mongers by slapping cases against them. As the state fights the Coronavirus epidemic, rumour mongering also appears to be a major challenge for law enforcers.

The Maharashtra police have given a stern warning to citizens about posting such messages. "There are many messages going around related to Coronavirus that end with an April fool's tag. This may be a prank to some, but it will definitely create chaos and panic in society" said a senior police officer. "Our cyber cell is keeping an eye on social media and WhatsApp messages to avoid this," added the officer.

Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said, "No one should post or forward any messages which will create panic. If someone is caught doing so, he/she will be penalised according to law".

The police have said that if anyone is caught for forwarding or sending such posts, they will be punished under the Maharashtra Police Act and section 188 of Indian Penal Code (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant). They could be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month or with a fine which may extend to two hundred rupees, or with both.

A 16-member team of experts from the state's cyber cell has been keeping an eye on rumour mongers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media round the clock. Apart from this, there are several other teams that are working on city and districts levels, to keep a check on people trying to create panic through such messages.

The police have filed 36 cases across the state. These include 20 cases in connection with WhatsApp posts, three for Facebook posts, two against tweets, one against a TikTok video maker and 10 offences on other social media.

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