Experts stress for gate-keeping social media across borders

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APP06-13 ISLAMABAD: May 13 – Managing Director Associated Press of Pakistan Masood Malik addressing during two-day International Conference of News Agencies (ICNA) as the delegates from various countries arriving to attend the event organized by the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) under the theme, “Pakistan’s Media – Opportunities and Challenges” with special focus on ‘News Agencies – Emerging Professional Challenges.' APP photo by Irshad Sheikh

ISLAMABAD, May 13 (APP):Foreign Media experts on Sunday stressed the need for gate-keeping social media by enacting
international as well as national laws to ensure filtering of fake information, and
discouraging propaganda against any particular group or society.
“In contemporary modern world times, the state’s responsibilities have increased
manifold and it has to protect its citizens from the bad use and misuse of the kinds of
propaganda over these social platforms, so that our attitudes do not become negative
which can have social impact.”
Chairman Department of Media and Communication Studies, International Islamic University,
Dr Zafar Iqbal said while addressing the two-day International Conference of News Agencies (ICNA),
organized by Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) and attended by delegates from around 20 countries.
Dr Zafar proposed that state should be responsible for protecting the minds of people to
avoid extremist and radicalized approaches in the society. “We need to
establish analysis centre to monitor what is coming through social media,” he added.
“People are liking or disliking what is coming on social media; we need to use different
techniques of sentiment analysis to gauge negativity, associated with social media posts,”
he added.
He also suggested establishing a research-based watchdog at the state level for social
media, other than Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
Dr Zafar said social media had flooded every society and there were around 50
million social media users in Pakistan. “Some of the fake and spicy news are there, hate
mongers are also there, which are affecting our attitude and behavior. We need to
understand that seemingly operating,” he added.
He also stressed the need to train and educate the children by imparting them critical
thinking that the information they were receiving over social media, was either fake or real.
Senior journalist, Ziauddin said that the developed countries had strict rules and
regulations regarding social media.
For example, he said this year Germany’s parliament adopted a law that includes a
provision for fines of up to Euro 50 million on popular sites like Facebook and Youtube,
if they fail to remove within 24 hours, obviously illegal content, such as hate speech and
incitements to violence.
He said social media and the digital sphere offered a great new opportunity for
journalism, enabling reporters to tell stories in different ways, while working with data
to create depth and context for their audience.
However, those who indulge in propaganda are also making use of data with considerable
success, spreading misinformation with
the purpose of promoting their own agendas, leading to a loss of trust in the media in
the process, he added.
He said the way, the media was being manipulated these days, makes it very difficult
for even the highly professionals among the journalists to escape becoming willing
promoters of this propaganda without realizing what they were doing.
Head of Department Mass Communication, National University of Modern Languages
(NUML), Mufti Jamiluddin said although social media had made it easy for the people to
receive information rapidly,but there was a question about the authenticity of information.
He said the responsibility of print and electronic media had also increased in that
regard as they had to sort out the genuine and fake news item, flooding the social media.
Dr Jabbar from Rifah University pointed out that media could play role in shaping
behavior of society, government and particularly mindset of the society.
He said in the wake of abundance of news information pouring out in the social media,
the role of news agencies had become even more important.
He said the correspondents of news agencies were more responsible. “The news agencies
will continue to play role in disseminating authentic, accurate, responsible and credible news
information,” he added.
During the interactive session, News Editor Union of OIC News Agency, Saudi Arabia Elsadig
Bashir commented that usually the journalists face negative attitude from government officials as
they were not allowed to have direct access to the news sources, which normally resulted in
misperception about a particular issue.
Dr Zafar Iqbal said although most of the countries around the globe including Pakistan had
laws regarding access to information but these laws could not be implemented fully.