Netizens may have teased inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar about being a ‘Twitter cop’ for occasionally issuing orders to his men on the micro-blogging site - but now, the idea of ‘Twitter policing’ is no longer just a joke.
The Police Cyber Investigation Response Centre (PCIRC), which joined the Twitter community on Jan 11 this year, has immediately gone about scouring posts by Malaysian netizens.
Using the Twitter handler @OfficialPcirc, it has to date highlighted several posts by netizens deemed to have gone overboard in their comments, warning them that they are being watched or worse, being told that the police are coming after them.
In less than a month since joining Twitter, PCIRC has issued at least seven warnings on Twitter.
The most high-profile warning was against the Twitter handler @kuasiswa, which is managed by prominent activist Fahmi Reza.
PCIRC warned Fahmi that he was under observation for his Jan 31 posting of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak as a ‘clown’ with the words “We are all seditious”.
Fahmi was not the only one warned. A slew of other people have been ticked off by PCIRC, some of whom appear to be teenage users.
On Jan 29, Twitter user @Amylia Azhar was suddenly tagged by PCIRC on Twitter, and informed that she would be investigated by police.
She had made unflattering remarks about Najib and attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali.
— PCIRC OFFICIAL (@OfficialPcirc) January 29, 2016
Two days before that, PCIRC tagged twitter user @IzzatCheng, informing him that he was under police observation for calling them unflattering names and accusing them of corruption.
On Jan 24, PCIRC posted a compilation of five tweets by separate individuals using derogatory remarks against the Indian community celebrating Thaipusam.
“Action will be taken against those who play up racial sentiment,” it said.
PCIRC is a special unit of the Royal Malaysian Police that handles investigations involving cyberspace but its debut on Twitter and very public approach is likely to put it under the spotlight.
— PCIRC OFFICIAL (@OfficialPcirc) January 24, 2016