Distorting truth: New political norm
By: Dr Atique Ur Rehman
Political discourse is the superior manoeuvre in a democratic society and political communication is foundation this discourse. Political communication constitute truth for political narrative of a particular political party. Crafting political messages is an art which does not necessarily need lies. Thus ultimate meaning of democracy is truth and onlyDistorting truth: New political normBy Dr Atique Ur RehmanMarch 12, 2023Political discourse is the superior manoeuvre in a democratic society and political communication is foundation this discourse. Political communication constitute truth for political narrative of a particular political party. Crafting political messages is an art which does not necessarily need lies. Thus ultimate meaning of democracy is truth and onlyTruth is the ultimate foundation of any manifesto, political vision and development of society. When lies become means to achieve political objective, then country dive deep into darkness. This is the doomsday scenario which we are going through. Truth is what, nation needs today. Lies are ultimate reason of our problems. Disinformation, twisting words and out of context references are new tools to manipulate public opinion. Whole range of mediums have been put into place to distort reality. Information disorder is now pervasive pre-dominantly in our political landscape.Information is basis of human existence. Whole edifice of human development is standing on true information. In recent past, we have witnessed chaos more often than in the distant past and it is because of vertical and horizontal manipulation of information through an organised infrastructure by stakeholders to create unrest among public. It is a new kind of war being fought among states, societies, groups and individuals. It is not only political battles, but insurgencies, conflicts, human rights, marketing and branding being managed through digital platforms.Last twenty years have witnessed revolutionary development in the digital technology which has now entered into new domains of block chain, artificial intelligence etc. Big data is being converted into information for use in whole range of operations for global development and management of societies. Social media platforms like Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Zoom are an extension of same development. These platforms are the biggest source of information sharing and social networking.Our political environment is highly charged since last many years. Political news remains a dominant discourse in Pakistan. Various political stakeholders are 24/7 busy in political expediencies and their social media teams use digital platforms to dominate the narrative. To dominate political narrative, reliance of social media campaigns remain on disinformation and misinformation.Deliberate use of fabricated information is termed ‘disinformation’. Unintentional proliferation of fabricated news has been called ‘misinformation’. ‘Mal-information’ is correct information but only used when intended to harm adversary. The mix of dis, mis and mal-information creates information disorder.Actors use various techniques to inflict harm, for political advantages and for earning money. Disinformation is most harmful way of achieving end objectives. A totally fabricated news is floated on any social media platform through unknown sources which is proliferated by troll farms. Factious hashtags (#) are made to malign individuals, organisations and political opponents. According to reports during months of July-August, 2022, as many as 4.86 million tweets were originated for 21 hashtags against military and seven were exclusively against military leadership of Pakistan. Social media trolls from Afghanistan and India join the bandwagon and fuel poison in the society. Spreading lies polarises the public opinion in a democratic society. Polarisation results into chaos which is a big hazard in the development of country.There are numerous examples of misuse of digital platform by states, political players and business rivals. Indian chronicles were exposed by EU DisinfoLab in Brussels in 2020. It is a state sponsored propaganda network established across the globe by India against states not in conformation with Indian policies. The network of fake websites, NGO, news agencies has been operating since 2005 and it still continues. Indian chronicles have been termed biggest promoter of organised fake news in the world. ‘Bad Source’ is yet another startling revelations by EU DisinfoLab about ANI, biggest Indian news distributor.Algorithms is new language. Data mining, analytics set the tone of business and markets. Digital World has empowered citizens beyond imagination. Work from home is a new norm. Earning through free lancing has enhanced the opportunities for youth. New ways of using digital technology are being introduced every day. Online shopping, food delivery, ticketing, booking has eased human in multifarious ways. Millions of rupees transactions are being made through a single click at your mobile phones. Digital development is benefitting humanity beyond imagination. But it has also armed the countries and political stake holders to influence public mind for their vested interests. Yuval Noah Harari in his book 21 lessons for 21st century has predicted highly dangerous outcome of artificial intelligence and advances in biotech, which has already started overpowering human mind in many ways. This development to overpower human mind is not in consonance with political and social realities.Twitter is most effective and quickest way to inform and comment. It is also quickest way to proliferate disinformation and misinformation. Retweet is biggest example of misinformation. Digital hashtags keep propping up on twitter panel 24/7. These hashtags are like football matches. More you score, more you win.Disinformation, misinformation and mal-information is reaching to over 120 million users in the country. It is sure an indication of evolution of a dangerous information regime. It has been calculated that an average Pakistani spends 6-10 hours daily on internet. This is a big ratio. This haze in environment due to information disorder is detrimental to national security. It directly affects the political, economic, social and military security of country.For betterment of country, the culture of disinformation, misinformation and mal-information needs to be handled through a well thought out strategy and best social media practices.
Writer holds Ph.D in IR from QAU and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The article is already published in https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/1049060-distorting-truth-new-political-norm
and is republished by the permission of author