False information over social media distressing users


Peshawar: The hazard of false information is not only that public will believe it. Most false content, when shared by respectable individuals, lends a huge impact on their mass followers, and those followers in turn spread this information without weighing it in. Soon, information becomes the hot topic of the day and may even be picked up by the electronic media.

In the last two decades, social media has gained significance in the global societies promising access; connecting those far with news and information in the wink of the eye. However, Qatar-based news channel admits, “Broadcast media is accused of encouraging sensationalism for ratings instead of good reporting.”

Trolling, cyber bullying and identity theft is common practice of current time, sharing and posting false information without an accurate source is another practice of well-educated and so called public figures. Had you ever thought how false information could kill you? The unforgettable Mashal Khan lynching tragedy is still fresh in Pakistan’s collective memory. It clearly denotes the impact of untrue information. The content shared with the mob at the Bacha Khan University was enough to declare him guilty. Mashal had claimed that his Facebook account had been hacked. But those online aren’t necessarily educated to be able to decipher between fair news and false. Hence the mob that lynched the young Mashal never bothered to investigate the truth behind the inciting social media content. In the recent past even the ex-interior minister of Pakistan, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had warned that tweets (unnecessarily posted) could threaten justice, democracy and the system of Pakistan.

Mobile Internet dis-connectivity in FATA

Few days earlier ProPakistani, a web magazine, tweeted about Pakistani mobile internet subscriber statistics, in response due to lack of technical understanding and using weak source a local organization founder and lawyer tweeted that “Please exclude #FATA ki population since 3G/4G is shut down there since a year.” Later to confirm the source for dis-connectivity in FATA they added the source in the online conversation to answer. Latter source claim that since 12th June 2016 the mobile internet services are suspended in whole FATA.

However, confirmation from different sources of different agencies and region of FATA, it was confirmed that in most of the area mobile communication services are not functioning let alone 3G/4G coverage. A very selective area has mobile services of different telco companies with only 2G and GPRS connectivity. The sources claim is wrong and only right for ‘Landi Kotal’ valley and not for the whole of FATA.

Information like that only misguides online common citizens and international viewers about FATA. This is not only about internet connectivity some other untrue information like this representing the whole FATA being instable and insecure, this is how the false information can damage positive image of any place and misguide online citizen about person or location. Tayyeb Afridi, Director Radio TNN, suggests that cross verification and media coverage base published articles can help in the sharing right information with accurate sources and also avoid misguidance.

 A recent Viral Video

A very recent video was viral on social media about raid on dance party in Islamabad and online users were commenting in a hostile manner. Later we found that the video shared on social media actually belonged to a country in the Middle East and was few months old. This is how the common online users were affected by fake videos without bothering to know about the reality before commenting and sharing the content over social media.

How one tweet passes on?

 Few days back a very sensible and senior journalist & anchor person posted on her twitter wall that Ejaz Haroon from PIA was sleeping on three business class seats and that the plane had refused passengers for availability of seats. After some time, one of her followers changed the original post and published it on his wall. Naturally his post intrigued netizens and was followed with comments and shares. It was only later that the false nature of the post was revealed. It is unfortunate that there is a complete lack of consciousness about the uses of social media and its governing cyber laws in the netizen, who behave blindly to attract attention. Cyber security laws need to be clear and stringent about the false information.

No matter you are right or wrong we will report without knowing truth

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), the case of Islamia College & university teacher arrested for drug possession, became a hot topic of the social media users. After a lot of online maligning it was found that the lecturer was wrongly arrested.

 Forward as received

 The same case we found during a very recent strike by young doctors in KP against proposed autonomous system; a very senior journalist and analyst shared an old post on her twitter wall by a doctor questioning local ruling party. Later we found that the person who has written the post was old one and he confirmed and clarified on his Facebook wall that the information is old please was used to politically manipulate the strike agenda.

 Relative Possibilities and Accountability for the same case

 This is how some online users due to lack of content knowledge and sources misguide online citizens, which has hugely affected people ideology, dignity and trust. In same situation hackers and scammers also take advantage of the movement to spread false facts with some cosmetics visualization to get people attentions to click over the links to steal their information and take privilege of their account. Further different online pages and website promoter also take advantage of the situation to obtain more clicks, likes and traffic to their website/pages. Sharing Rumors and Hoaxes is another common practice by online users to catch more traffic nothing more.

Sadly, it doesn’t end there. In response to fake news the future of social media becoming in more trouble, the cyber and media laws need to be more and more strict and function actively. Finally, it is necessary for online users to think before [what’s on your mind?] hit to post on your wall may affect others dignity.


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