KARACHI:

IT experts and social activists have presented some useful tips and pieces of advice to control misinformation, disinformation, harmful content, and concocted campaigns on social media. They suggest that the government should formulate rules and implement them strictly so that businesses on social media cannot be harmed.

Social media is an emerging industry where thousands of people are earning a decent living through uploading short videos, posts, and garnering likes, comments, site visits, and other interactions. They mentioned that social media addiction is on the rise, describing it as a new world order that influences trends, styles, mindsets, and online businesses.

They stressed that the government should establish clear rules, involving social media platforms, civil society, and IT companies, to ensure effectiveness and spread digital awareness among people.

The Chinese model, they argue, is better in terms of controlling social media as it incorporates holistic approaches, filtering tools, and real-name registration of users, allowing authorities to track and monitor activities efficiently and quickly.

By implementing various strategies such as awareness campaigns, regulatory initiatives, and developing a fact-checking habit before sharing content, users can mitigate the spread and impact of misinformation, disinformation, harmful content, and concocted campaigns on both online and offline platforms.

The volume of disinformation and misinformation is increasing on social media, which adversely affects the credibility and growth of online businesses, including digital banking and e-commerce, according to Chairman Dellsons Associates, Ibrahim Amin.

Amin underscored the need for all stakeholders, including regulatory authorities, companies, and consumers, to control misinformation, leading to financial crimes and scams, which affect various corporations and their users with the rise of the internet and social media in everyday lives.

He suggested that consumers should always verify prizes and investment schemes with the company before making any investments, and regulators should block any content used to advertise harmful schemes.

He also recommended that companies and regulators continue to educate people about financial frauds and scams, provide tips to avoid these traps through various media and channels, and take action against cybercriminals and fraudsters, particularly within the country.

IT analyst Muhammad Yasir mentioned that the regulation of the internet and social media could be carried out to a great extent by government authorities in collaboration with the management of social media companies. However, full control and complete monitoring of content are not possible until adopting a Chinese model to ban foreign social media sites and setting up alternate local platforms for citizens.

In Pakistan, relevant authorities have set up a model to block content for users within the country by contacting the administration of social media platforms. This has led to the removal of blasphemous, indecent, and anti-state content in the past, mainly on platforms like Facebook, TikTok, and Bigo.

While this system can effectively maintain the country’s values and beliefs, it can also negatively affect businesses relying on social media, digital marketing, and e-commerce. Therefore, the government should establish dedicated access and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for online businesses to ensure their livelihoods are not disrupted.

Any mechanism to control content should be established to curb disinformation without affecting the businesses of online workers.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2024.

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