IF Social Media Giants like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and TikTok etc are convinced to set up their offices in Pakistan, it would be great to monitor harmful and offensive content online. Recently Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib told media that the government is negotiating with international social media giants to convince them to open their representative offices in Pakistan.
According to the press release of Council of Newspaper Editors (CPNE) he said:
“Experience has shown that on a number of occasions social media has been used to propagate anti-Pakistan as well as anti-Muslim agenda – mostly from artificial accounts set up in India and it becomes difficult to interact with those platforms until they have representation inside the country. Our efforts are aimed at facilitating flow of genuine news while rooting out fake and false propaganda in the shortest possible time,”
In past any government didn’t pay heed to this serious issue while social media emerged as effective tool for propagating and dissiminating misleading information eventually promoting a negative image of Pakistan on international level. However It is an excellent imitative that government felt the need and decided to communicate with these giants to have their presence in Pakistan.
While 5th generation warfare is waged, Pakistan needs to be ready to confront in every possible way, and commitment of PTI Government to streamline the media industry with the evolving demands and trends of the present times is commendable.
It is natural to assume that Government wants to control the freedom of expression of mainstream media. However social media can not be controlled in modern times because mainly people run these platforms, but in recent days several tools have been devised to exploit the power of social media. Hence these endeavors on government part are timely and much needed.
It would be interesting to see the proposal made by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. What incentives and assurances are being offered to social media giants to bring them here. Generally it is considered all stakeholders must get mutual benefit out of negotiations. Minister informed media that for that purpose Pakistan Media Devwlopment Authority is meant to act as an “umbrella organisation”.
Interestingly media organisations in Pakistan have rejected the Pakistan Media Devwlopment Authority Ordinance at all levels fearing it might misuse the power to control free flow of news. They termed it unconstitutional, undemocratic and draconian law. For them this move is an extention to the defunct Press and Publication Ordinance (PPO) 1963 by Ayub khan while all media according to them was centrally controlled.
No one can refuse the fact that media in several ways is non-objective. Whether it is ownership of media or advertisers or conglomerates, or even a small scale journalist everyone has interets to serve. Regardless of role of traditional and social media we must appreciate the efforts of government of Pakistan on larger scale.