Or if it is, it shouldn’t be used as a whistle-blowing website for people to report traffic violations. If you visit the Gurgaon Traffic Police Facebook page right now, and specifically the photos section, you’ll see that a lot of well-meaning citizens have uploaded pictures of cars that flout traffic laws – some of them driving on the wrong side of the road, others without number plates and also some with dark film on their windows. Most of the people posting these pictures mean extremely well – they’re reaching out in the most convenient way possible and expect to see some action taken.
However, this is wrong for the following reasons:
- The pictures being posted are public. The alleged criminal’s (for lack of a better word) privacy is being invaded.
- The evidence (because that’s what these photos are) is visible to all, which means anyone can download, manipulate and post a version of the same picture to show different facts.
- The identity of the person who is reporting these crimes is also public – and not just the identity alone, their entire FB profile is visible.
- The Gurgaon Traffic Police undoubtedly set this up so they could be more approachable, however one could argue that this entire exercise is actually being defeated because it appears that there are only complaints and a few stock answers from the police about how they will proceed against the alleged criminals.
The right thing to do would be to set up a separate website which accommodates such pictures being sent in and then link to that from FB – perhaps even use FB Connect to power that website, so users have a convenient way of sending their details in a manner that lets it remain private.
It’s clear that our police force and governments have a lot to learn about the effective use of social media. If you can think of any other things that might help them be more effective, do post it in the comments section here!