Cautious use of social media, important to avoid conflicts: Alvi

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Tuesday said fake news always had a strong hidden agenda of giving rise to conflicts among nations and within societies, and stressed awareness at public level was vital to ensure responsible and cautious use of social media.

Addressing at International Conference on Media and Conflict at Convention Centre, the president said apart from positive aspects of social media, it was being used as a modern tool of propaganda and fake news, which required a constant vigilance.

President Alvi pointed out that today’s media around the world, had adopted an approach of highlighting negatives to create sensationalism and market their news products.

He mentioned that fake news could have three faces – misinformation based on wrong information, disinformation with addition of incorrect content and malinformation with cooked news.

He said a number of Pakistani media outlets also had a tendency to twist facts and expressed dissatisfaction for himself, being quoted out-of-context several times in interviews and news.

President Alvi said most wars in the world were imposed on the basis of misinformation to advance specific agendas, terming such countries and stakeholders as ‘pickpockets of modern era’.

For example, the western media often gives prominence to news items against Islam which has resulted in hatred and insecurity among Muslim community, he added.

The president recalled that in the guise of justifying attack on Iraq in 90s, a series of fake news about ‘weapons of mass destruction’ was  launched which resulted in loss of millions of lives and inflicted huge damage to property.

The domino effect continued in Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria, for which the entire humanity paid a heavy price, he added.

President Alvi regretted that in today’s world, not morality but the volume of trade had become the new criteria for justice.

He said humans as part of their genetic disposition, had the ability to register good or bad news and quoted a book ‘Factfulness’ by Hans Rosling which focused that vast majority of human beings were wrong about the state of the world.

President Alvi urged upon the nation to not to fall prey to vicious cycle of misinformation which was also strictly prohibited as per Islamic teachings.

He said fake news had the inherent capacity to severely damage families and societies and quoted a few verses from Quran’s Surahs Nisa and Al-Hujurat that provided a guidance on not propagating wrong information.

He said fake news had a strong influence on the last elections in Untied

States and feared that in Pakistan’s next election in 2023, social media could be used in exploiting public opinion through fake imagery and news.