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Army Chief’s Concern about misuse of Social Media are Legitimate

Dr Atique Ur Rehman

Since last 2-3 years at an average of 4-5 twitter trends are made daily spreading despondency, hate, for political victimisation and targeting female journalists. Trends are made by troll farms posting thousands of tweets and memes. Tiktok has become a leading platform for dark comedy
In a PEW research, a median of 70%, across the 19 countries surveyed, believe that the spread of false information is a major threat to their country.
An academic research carried out concludes that the nature of threats emanating from social media, especially Twitter, in the context of Pakistan, are mainly in the form of radicalization, glorification of terrorist groups, under mining writ of state, projecting negative image of the country, propagation of violent sub-nationalism and hybrid warfare. Though Pakistan has been relatively active after 2020 in responding to social media challenges, implementing social media regulations remains an issue, especially when most social media platforms are foreign in origin.
An expert on subject and former diplomat and Analyst, Yael Eisenstat says ” the modern information environment is crystalized around profiling us and then segmenting us into more and more narrow categories”, bombarding us with information, confirming our views and reinforcing our biases,” which is similar to the tactics used by terrorist organisation as they work to recruit new members”.
Knowledge is product of data and true information . If info is faulty it can not lead towards wrong conclusions. If there is no knowledge then all policies and decisions will be made on intuitions and assumptions. In an era of zero sum game, the culture of lies, blames and propaganda is very serious threat to stability and development of country. If we keep in mind the early days of Covid 19, fake news created lot of hurdles in overcoming the disease. Stock exchange rates have direct bearing with stability in the country. One fake news can result into crash of stock exchange. Aviation operations are dependent upon accurate information. Social media practices are encroaching upon the ability to think freely and critically. According to pew survey research
70% adults in developing nations across the globe are concerned about spread of fake news and its ramification.
Pakistan Army Chief’s concern about misuse of social media, on friday at farmer’s convention, is legitimate. Pakistan is confronting a serious home grown threat of disinformation since last few years. External forces are exploiting this threat for their vested interests. It is a threat to individuals, society and state.
According to a research fake news is big concern in all emerging economies.
In south Africa 36% people say they frequently come across fake news. Philippine,Jordan, Kenya, Maxico are among top countries which have high ration of fake news.
Pakistan’s social media communication regime is marred with lies, deceit, disinformation and hate speech.
However, research median of 19 economically and socially developed countries like Singapore, Canada, Netherland, Germany, USA, show a very high percentage of population ( ranging from 49-71% ) consider social media good for country.
Access to technology has made easier for people to manipulate information. But, real threat is the deliberate effort to nurture a culture to engage youth for spread of lies and deceits, propaganda, mud slinging, threats, abuse and all other indecent tactics for political gains. An organised effort was underway to enrol thousands of youth in construction of fake content.
There is no dearth of examples of fake news in Pakistan. A whole industry is being backed by some political parties for manufacturing the fabricated news. A deliberate campaign has been unleashed on social media to pollute information on economy, politics, military, judiciary, law and order, just to show their venom / anger against political opponents and state institutions. Every bit of information is being distorted on social media through fake ids using fake official letters, artificial intelligence, manipulated data.
An image of a regressive state is being spread by a cult of using social media. This group of twisted minds is not critical of policies but creator and proliferated a deliberate propaganda against Pakistan as is being done by India through Indian Chronicles and bad sources.
in South Korea, 90% of those under age 30 say social media makes people easier to manipulate, compared with 65% of those 50 and older. Interestingly, US focused research has found older adults are more likely to share misinformation than younger ones. People with more education are also often more likely than those with less education to say that social media has led to people being easier to manipulate.
Social media has made people more divided in their political opinions.
It has become a priority job for governments to regulate social media platforms for correct news and free flow of information.