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2021.03.02 09:31

Lithuanian police to patrol social media for hate speech and vaccine disinformation

BNS, LRT.lt2021.03.02 09:31

Lithuania's police are planning to launch “a virtual patrol” unit to monitor cyberspace and social media aimed at preventing hate speech.

Police officers will be scanning through online comments, flagging those that are deemed inappropriate.

“A police icon will appear next to, in our opinion, inappropriate comments or inappropriate messages,” Police Commissioner General Renatas Požėla told reporters on Monday.

“We are currently in the process of selecting a number of police officers who will be monitoring the cyberspace 24 hours a day,” he said.

“If inappropriate messages and comments are detected, the virtual patrol will react. The police icon and message will appear next to a specific comment, informing both its author and the public that this is an illegal act and it must be stopped.”

“The goal is to fight hate, racial and sexual crimes,” Požėla added.

Interior Minister Agnė Bilotaitė later commented that there needed to be an effort against disinformation about Covid-19 vaccination.

According to Bilotaitė, elderly Lithuanians are refusing to have AstraZeneca shots after reading misleading information about the vaccine.

“We see a big challenge and a problem, namely, disinformation that is being spread in the public sphere, which does harm to people invited to get vaccinated. People become doubtful, people are frightened, and I think there should be a responsibility for spreading disinformation,” Bilotaitė said.