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Say no to propaganda: Government launches ‘Fake News Buster’

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News Analysis |

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has launched a social media account to deal with the fake news that has emerged as one of the biggest challenges in the era of information.

In a bid to fight the fake information, the ministry has created an official Twitter handle – Fake News Buster MoIB (@FakeNews_Buster). Ever since the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government took over, it has faced tough time dealing with propaganda from opposition parties, which are trying to malign the image of the party. The defaming challenges on social media are difficult to overcome as Pakistan enters a fifth generation war.

With the start of this social media handle, PTI’s government is aiming to expose the fake news. The social media users can contact the ministry to verify any news making rounds over the internet. It will also take a proactive approach and will check the authenticity of the information trending on different platforms to aware the masses of its credibility.

Media should create awareness among masses in this regard, and friends on social media should take initiative to share the responsibility to safeguard their circles and act as an influencer.

Recently, some social media users shared the information without clarifying the substance regarding the appointment of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI’s) lawmaker Maleeka Bokhari as the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) chairperson. PTI’s image was maligned when the fake news about Maleeka’s appointment went viral over the internet but later turned out to be false.

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Since some people do not seem to understand the vested interest of those spreading such false information, the incumbent government has taken this initiative to deal with the fake news and is contemplating a move to take strict action against those spreading such news. PTI’s Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain strongly condemned the fake news about Maleeka Bokhari and vowed to take action against such propaganda.

“A series of fake notifications and news has systematically spread on social media. It started from a media dinner picture and now there is a series of such rubbish. Without affecting the freedom of social media, we need to take strict action against such news,” Fawad said in his tweet.

Maleeka Bokhari also denied reports of her being appointed as the BISP chairperson and informed the public that she was not related to Zulfi Bukhari.

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The PTI lawmaker, who is also Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice, tweeted that “I want to categorically put it on record that I have not been appointed as head of BISP. I am also not related to Zulfi Bokhari. I hope this suffices and should put the discussion to an end.”

PTI has been a victim of such propaganda. After Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to launch the PM Dam Fund, fake news regarding the Pakistani-American billionaire Shahid Khan that he had announced donating $1 billion for the dams fund was circulated on social media. Many PTI supporters believed it to be true, who shared the fake news on the social media. However, later Shahid had to clarify that no such announcement had been made in that regard.

Similarly, there are countless examples, where politicians and others in the society are subjected to this type of victimization. In the last couple of years, fake news has emerged as one of the biggest threats to democracy, and the free debate. Individuals completely fabricate stories, and manipulate the information and try to show as the news is based on factual events, and is a credible journalism. The culprits use all kind of methods to legitimize the event(s) to fool the social media users.

Ever since the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government took over, it has faced tough time dealing with propaganda from opposition parties, which are trying to malign the image of the party.

The powerful people and even the government in some parts of the world are using the fake news as a weapon to suppress dissidence and boost their support. Fake news normally has a strong correlation of emotional responses of surprise and disgust that favors the spread of falsity over the truth. The online news portals/websites circulate the dubious information to deceive the readers to maximize the traffic and profits.

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These days’ people are not even bothered to read the complete story, and after reading the headline or title-that are kept ambiguous to attract the audience, they quickly scroll down and believe that what’s been said on its face value and mistakenly accept as true the headlines/titles that do not reflect the facts. Government’s decision to tackle the fake news through a twitter page is a welcome initiative.

Media should create awareness among masses in this regard, and friends on social media should take initiative to share the responsibility to safeguard their circles and act as an influencer. The trend should be introduced to make people learn about how to differentiate between the true and fake stories. Those trying to shape the minds of the public with evil intentions should not be given a free hand to manipulate the masses. The government needs to defend the nation from deliberate online falsehoods through legislation while keeping the freedom of speech intact.

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