ISPR chief cautions against ‘irresponsible’ use of social media
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor on Sunday cautioned against making ‘sweeping targeted statements or trends’ against any individual, profession or institution.
“Irresponsible biased use of social media and vested negative trends can lead to misunderstandings/spats,” he said via his personal twitter handle @peace for change, days after a hashtag calling for the arrest of journalists briefly became the top Twitter trend in Pakistan. “Sweeping targeted statements or trends against any individual/profession/institution are unethical. One such example is sweeping trend against journalists,” he said, and added the hashtag #Stay Responsible in the end.
A hashtag calling for the arrest of journalists briefly became the top Twitter trend in Pakistan on Thursday, deepening concern over a shrinking space for dissent in the country. The hashtag #Arrest Anti Pak journalists had dropped to second place by evening, but not before it had been used or forwarded more than 28,000 times. Many users accompanied it with a composite photograph of prominent journalists and TV anchors, some of whom regularly criticise the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Prime Minister Imran Khan and the powerful military establishment.
Shahzad Ahmed of digital rights group Bytes for All said the hashtag appeared to have been ‘planted’ by pro-PTI accounts and was not a ‘genuine public opinion’. “There are organised groups who start such trends … which is a very dangerous phenomenon in our country, regarding freedom of expression and personal freedom,” he said. “Responsible use of social media is now becoming impossible in our country. Now we use social media only to abuse others and to promote fake news and to disrespect each other, which is completely wrong,” he added.
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists has taken notice of the malicious campaign launched on social media.
The union’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) adopted a resolution at its meeting on Saturday, which urged the government to take action against those responsible for the ‘life-threatening campaign’.
It called upon the government, state institutions and judiciary to take immediate and urgent notice of the campaign, which has been launched on the basis of religious hatred.
The FEC demanded that the government direct the Federal Investigation Agency’s cyber wing and other top agencies to investigate and arrest those who had launched the campaign in the name of countering hybrid war, just to gag and control the media and put working journalists and media workers under pressure.