Want passport: Remain clean on social media

Now, your activities on social media may have an adverse bearing on the prospects of getting a passport. The Punjab Police have issued instructions to their staff to check applicants’ social media life during verification.

The police rationale behind the move is that virtual life on Facebook, Twitter and other online platforms is affecting the real life of persons, especially the youth, some of whom have fallen prey to the “glamour” of gangsters or communal groups and radicals.

“The idea is not to intrude on anyone’s privacy. We have observed in many recent cases that the youth are getting in touch with criminals and even terrorists through social media. The police verification will focus on whether or not one is interacting with gangsters or terrorists or indulging in any unlawful activity,” said DGP Suresh Arora.

He said a 19-year-old boy was recently arrested on terror charges. “The boy said he got involved with some foreign-based agencies after he ‘liked’ pro-Khalistani posts.”

The DGP said some embassies had already made it mandatory for visa applicants to disclose their social media profiles and links. “Like we protect our children and relatives from anti-social persons in real life, we, including parents and police, also need to keep an eye on the activities on social media,” Arora said, adding some corporate houses verified job applications’ social media contacts and activities before hiring them.

Human rights activist Navkiran Singh felt a check on social media was good. “If a person is displaying disturbing tendencies, it is the duty of the police to rein in such behaviour. A similar dangerous trend is about Punjabi songs which incite violence or eulogise drugs. Action needs to be taken against these singers and composers,” he said.

Advocate HS Phoolka, AAP MLA, said the move to check a person’s social media activity was discouraging. “Is the police going to question one’s character for holding an opinion? A person who is indulging in an unlawful activity should be penalised for it.”

He further said, “On one side, the Centre is pruning the ‘black list’ of alleged anti-social persons and saying everything is alright in Punjab and, on the other, the police are spreading paranoia about social media activities.

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