Misinformation through social media | By Jamal Abdul Nasir


Misinformation through social media

MEDIA has always been a pivotal player to steer politics and safeguarding democratic institutions of a nation state.

The print media played an important role during Pakistan movement. Similarly electronic media also remained vibrant to protect rights of people of the country and strengthen democratic norms.

The proliferation of social media as a result of internet revolution and technological advancements such as web 2.0 has resulted different platforms such as the Twitter, the Facebook etc where users actively participate instead of viewing passively.

The result is ubiquity of all sorts of information wither be political, professional or entertainment.

Contents on these social media platforms are created and delivered swiftly as compared to other means of media communication.

Social media platforms have leveraged common people to participate and voice their opinion.

Entry to social media is low cost and easy as compared to print or electronic media. However this entry is unchecked i.e.to author contents on print or electronic media someone has to bind himself for certain regulations.

However any binding regulation is absent in social media. Resulting plethora of false information. This false information spreads at enormous rate to a larger audience.

Realizing looming threat of fake news, the UN has recently adopted a resolution to counter spread of fake news.

Pakistani delegate while representing G-77 emphasized UN’s Department of Global Communication to fight proliferation of fake news on social media platforms.

Earlier in 2017, the World Economic Forum declared spread of fake news as urgent matter of human rights.

It is heartening that younger people of Pakistan who are almost sixty percent of population are taking part in political discourse through social media platforms.

These young people come from different social backgrounds. In Pakistan, most of younger people tend to acquire professional knowledge to seek better future.

However they miss subtle fields of humanity, history, law etc. the result is that these people are not much aware of the facts pertaining to political history of Pakistan.

Hence these people are vulnerable to mala fide contents developed by political actors with vested interests.

Unchecked, unverified content creation has resulted misleading information by even presumed responsible personalities.

It is observed that even eminent political personalities are sharing misinformation on social media platforms such as twitter for temporal political gains.

Political leadership is not merely to gain power but it is much larger concept which also encompasses nation building and uniting nation to undertake different challenge relating to national security.

A polarized political milieu cannot offer much to prepare nation for countering national security threats and gaining economic independence.

Smear campaigns on social media against political opponents as well as state institutions and unleashing keyboard warriors to upload fake and false contents cannot undermine the will of majority of people who still believe that none is greater than state.

Majority of Pakistanis likes to participate in democratic process and they want strengthening of democratic institutions.

It should be kept in mind that only those nation can survive and prosper where accommodation of dissenting voices is encouraged.

Current polarized political environment warrants that leaders at all levels should educate their support bases to understand that political differences are to be opined with grace, dignity and upholding own social values.

Social media platforms should not prove fatal for communal coherence. Theses social media platform has greater responsibility to ensure that fake news items are filtered.

They must strive to optimize algorithms to validate veracity of contents being shared.

There must be some penalizing mechanism by social media platforms such as blocking those users who often tend to share misinformation.

—The writer , a retired Wg Cdr, is contributing columnists based in Islamabad


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