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Ganesh Pol asked: Why did we fail to detect and diagnose the cyber terror attacks on our leading IT city despite the fact that it emanated from a very "traditional source"?

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  • Cherian Samuel replies: To recap the sequence of events leading to Bangalore, on the 20th of May 2012, a 26 year old woman was murdered in the Rakhine State of Myanmar. The ensuing riots that started in Myanmar around the 3rd of June left 80 dead and 80,000 displaced. Pages were created in Pakistan and West Asia, and even as far as Australia, containing misleading information and morphed pictures and placed on Facebook, and other social networking sites and websites, primarily to incite the population in those countries to rise up in protest. These had the desired effect not just in those countries but also in India where they were juxtaposed with unconnected incidents in Assam to inflame passions and threat of violence against people from the North-East of the country.

    Detection of misinformation on social media of the type that led to the events in Bangalore is not possible without the creation of considerable investment in different capabilities. If one considers the data flowing through the social media networks, as per statistics, Facebook gets 5 billion pageviews a month in India alone, and Youtube gets about a billion pageviews. On a global scale, 60 hours of video are uploaded to youtube every minute and 4,000 tweets are sent every second. Moreover, there is a very thin line between monitoring data and monitoring content and there is a big question mark as to whether monitoring data alone will be sufficient. There are many issues to be resolved before an efficient monitoring mechanism can be put in place.