The age of media mercenary | By Waqar Hassan


The age of media mercenary

Winston Churchill notably said, “In wartime, truth is so precious that a bodyguard of lies would always attend her.

” It is true even in the modern-day era. Once wars involved the display of military might.Modern wars vanquish information warfare.

Such wars have metamorphosed into wars of imagination, carving public opinion and national narratives. Today, the internet has transformed the world into a global village.

According to a UN report, sixty-three percent of the world’s population now uses the internet and almost forty-two percent of people use social media.

Social media has become a mandatory part of life, introducing us to the age of rumours and whispers.

The internet has equipped people with new-fangled means of propagating information. Therefore, they are fast adopting the role of information warriors.

It summons the curse of deliberate circulation of lies through outright disinformation and misinformation.

A study by Sinan Aral of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sheds light on the fact that truth took about six times as long as falsehood to reach 1500 people.

The study also uncloaks that disinformation was seventy percent more likely to be shared than dinkum news.

In the contemporary era, despotic states and non-state actors use social media platforms to detract people from reality without actually going to war or taking the blame.

In the past, states that favour tyranny used such campaigns to shape public opinion in their favour during elections, pandemics and wartimes.

For instance, the Indian government used faux propaganda to deviate public attention from its shameful mishandling of the pandemic.

Even Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra slammed the central government, questioning why the central government used the catchphrase “Zimaydar Kaun “as a propaganda tool to conceal its failure in handling the pandemic.

Similarly, biased propaganda is being used shamelessly by the Indian government to hide the reality of the struggle of Kashmiris for their freedom.

The Indian government is hiding the atrocities and cruelties it inflicts on innocent Kashmiris by using social media to present a fabricated picture of reality.

Similarly, Israel, by influencing social media platforms villainously is materializing her immoral designs, harming the Palestinian cause.

It is treacherously snatching the Palestinian land and depriving many innocent Palestinians of the rightful occupation of their motherland.

It points out that social media has become more destructive than weapons of mass destruction, allowing such despotic states to hide reality with fake stories that serve their purpose.

Non-state actors and terrorist groups also use social media to circulate fear to a broader section of the population.

It demystifies why ISIS broadcast its actions on social media platforms – to draw the focus towards it and to induce panic among the general masses.

Verily, the fear factor is more devastating than reality and terrorists retort to social media platforms to propel their propaganda for pressurizing governments by invoking chaos and terror in societies.

Currently, attacking weak states, disintegrating communities and scandalizing personalities have become a doable venture.

Social media is making communities rabid, bigoted and divided more than ever. However, novel challenges require innovative approaches to settle them in a sagacious manner.

According to a report by the University of East London, if just thirty percent of social media users check to see if a post is accurate before sharing it, they can restrict the spread of fake news.

Every country, organization and individual on this planet must realize that even the slightest disrespectful comment against a community or an individual on social media platforms breeds an abomination among countries, communities and individuals.

Therefore, communities need lettering regarding the perfidious use of social media. Global governments, educational institutions and media houses should start campaigns to unmask the reality of the wicked world of information warfare.

The global community should handle the spread of fake news sagaciously and solutions should embrace educating people to distance themselves from such posts devoid of conclusive facts and concrete evidence.

Artificial intelligence can minimize felonious social media campaigns from propelling fake news.

It can screen social media posts by comprehending them based on the information that is shared through social media posts. Social media has many appreciatable uses, but a negative side too.

World can bust down its baleful effects by investing in people. Social media is global and no individual country can bring it under its legal sphere.

Only visionary leadership by world leaders can discourage the unwanted use of social media.

Placing a ban on social media platforms is not a solution, the world must plug the loopholes that allow its immoral use.

However, if the world overlooks the need to monitor social media, the curse of fake news and biased propaganda will bring this world into a whirlpool of chaos and confusion.

—The writer is CSS Officer, based in Sargodha.