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Govt to control hate speech on Social Media: Fawad Chaudhry


News Desk |

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Wednesday, 13th February that the government has devised a mechanism to curb hate speech on social media and that there would be an extensive crackdown from next week.

“We have to a great extent regularized hate speech on formal media. I am thankful for the cooperation of the private media on this. I am happy to inform you that in the next step we have prepared a mechanism in which we will be able to control hate speech on social media” Chaudhry said while addressing an event.

The minister said a working group of security agencies including the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) determined the capability of fake accounts spreading hate speech on social media. He said, “Our problem right now is that digital media is taking over formal media. It was important for us to regularize this.”

According to the social media platform’s report for the January-June 2018 period, Islamabad forwarded requests to block 243 accounts. Of these, Twitter found 141 to be violating its guidelines and shut them down.

Chaudhry added that the government was bringing a new authority – Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority which would be a one window operation to enforce regulations for the digital, print and electronic media.

He added, “The larger problem is with the informal media, not the formal media. There is a need to build a capacity in which social media can be monitored, fake accounts traced and give out punishment to those violating the law.”

According to Chaudhry important arrests had been made this week on the basis of using social media to give fatwas and spread their extremist narrative. “In the next and coming weeks, you will see there will be a strict crackdown on this. People will not be allowed to give their extremist narrative on social media.”

Read more: “Don’t drag army into everything,” warns DG ISPR

In December 2018, the information Minister, addressing a press conference, had said that the federal government wants to prevent “hate speech and not to curb free speech”, adding that “social media companies have cooperated with the government of Pakistan”.

“It was [the Pakistani government’s] request that led Facebook to block most of the hate speech mongering accounts,” the minister said. “We desire the prevention of hate speech and not to curb free speech.”

Earlier, microblogging website Twitter had published a report, wherein it stated that the Pakistani officials reported more than 3,000 accounts in the first six months of 2018 for allegedly spreading hate speech and inciting violence.

Read more: Twitter suspends Punjab CM spokesperson’s account

According to the social media platform’s report for the January-June 2018 period, Islamabad forwarded requests to block 243 accounts. Of these, Twitter found 141 to be violating its guidelines and shut them down.

In the preceding period (July-December 2017), 674 accounts were reported to Twitter and requests to block 75 accounts were forwarded.