Freedom of the press

Spread of fake news and reckless behavior can trigger social media ban in Pakistan

Twitter is a deeply divided space in Pakistan. Most of users are conservative Pakistanis who hardly tolerate criticism on religion, state and its institution and their eastern values. They are often seen confronting liberal journalists and members of the civil society when they see a “red line” has been crossed.

The majority of Twitter users are offended when a small number of Pakistani journalists and rights activists living abroad target state institutions.

While thousands of people start hashtag trends to raise their voice, their opponents never run out of ideas to provoke them.

One such attempt was made on Thursday when some Twitter users shared a video of two men, with one impersonating as an army major, indulging in an objectionable act

The clip was circulated with outrageous claims that it features a man named Major Danish. Pakistani users dismissed the claims as false and called it an attempt by enemies to vilify the army. They were of the view that the video was made with an aim to target Pakistan’s most powerful institution at a time when the country is witnessing extra an ordinary challenge on its western front after the fall of Kabul to Taliban.

The campaign against the army also raised eye brows because it was started at a time when a blast killed scores of people at the Kabul airport and Pakistani authorities prepared to cope with the situation in Islamabad ahead of the arrival of people stranded at the Kabul airport.

Some sane voices advised people against spreading unauthentic news reports and videos as such reckless behavior can lead to unnecessary restrictions and bans on social media. They said circulating such content would be tantamount to playing in the hands of enemies.

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