Social media, especially Facebook, perhaps the most powerful medium, can become an effective source for dissemination of useful information, provision of entertainment and obtaining knowledge, but in our society it is being misused by most of the people for spreading baseless news, fabricated photos and sketches just to defame others.
Few years ago when a limited number of people had Facebook accounts, they used to share only historical, useful and interesting information and photos but now the situation has totally changed.
The number of Facebook users is increasing with each passing day and several persons have more than one account with different names. The fake Facebook accounts are usually used for negative activities like blackmailing and propaganda.
The experts of social media are of the view that most of the youth are using fake names with attractive but fake photos of girls to get fast and massive response.
Every user should keep it in mind that social media is used by families also and uploading substandard items is extremely immoral act, says a student
Facebook has become a Hide Park where everyone can use whatever language he/she wants to use. Sometimes one can observe very indecent words against known personalities, mainly politicians. There is no restriction on uploading photos, texts and comments against anyone.
The political workers seem more active on Facebook as they use it mostly for propaganda. The most lamentable aspect of the situation is that people have started disgracing political and religious leaders by uploading their caricatures.
The portraits and photographs of leaders are reshaped in different poses with girls and then uploaded to tarnish their image in public. Political workers, especially women, are disgraced by changing their shapes in photo-shop with strange captions. Most of the viewers are now well-versed with the entire process and know that people are using Facebook as a propaganda tool.
The Facebook users are educated people and many of them can become opinion makers but they too indulge in the negative activities and not only misuse this powerful platform but contribute no good to the society. The misuse of this powerful social media has caused unrest among many of the people because the threat of fake accounts is also on the rise.
Several known personalities, government officials, politicians and even judges have denied having Facebook accounts but IDs in their names do exist on Facebook. Many of them have clarified their position after appearance of objectionable stuff on the site.
Tagging of photos on others’ timelines is another serious issue because sometimes someone is tagged in a very disgusting photos and stuff against his/her will.
Sharing of unconfirmed, inauthentic Qurani verses and Hadiths of Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) is very common and people download and get print out of the same to preserve them but no one bothers to get the stuff verified at least from a religious scholar.
“I hate to see the blood stained photos of victims of violence on Facebook and even on television and in newspapers. Media should ban displaying such things, which can terrorise the society,” says Mahnoor Ali, a girl student of a government-run college.
Similarly, Mohammad Izhar Ali Shah, a student of Islamia College Peshawar, said that use of fake female photos by boy students had become a routine, which did not suit civilised and sensible citizens.
He urged the students to share stuff pertaining to general knowledge, academics and history instead of misuse of the valuable space on the international social media. He also opposed tagging of immoral material on social media, saying most of Facebook users were young students, who should not be misguided.
“Every user should keep it in mind that social media is used by families also and uploading substandard items is extremely immoral act, which needs to be checked by the relevant departments of the government,” Mr Izhar suggested.
An IT expert said that there should be ban on use of useless stuff, which could misguide common users. He said that excessive use of digital cameras and cellular phones had made lives of people miserable by making unnecessary videos and photos.
“One cannot preserve privacy in the prevailing situation as in case of any unusual moment one’s photo can appear on social media within no time,” he said.
The expert said that most of the Facebook users had scores of friends on the net but none of them could prove faithful in hour of need. “They only send messages on birthdays and comment on newly uploaded stuff,” he said. The youngsters, he said, had devoted their lives to Facebook and Twitter as they didn’t sleep at night but remained busy in such activities.
He pointed out that students were in the habit of making videos in the classrooms and uploading the same on Facebook to the surprise of parents and teachers. The management of every educational institution should check misuse of the cellular phones and digital cameras, he added.
He said that location of fake ID users could be checked but it needed strenuous efforts on part of the cyber crimes unit of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). Stressing the need to check the originality of the IDs, he said that it was a sensitive thing that could lead to murder of people if not checked.
“There are examples that anti-social elements used social media for nefarious designs. They lure girls through chatting, get their phone numbers and try to achieve whatever ill-designs they have in mind,” he added.
A sports journalist Azmatullah Khan said that Facebook was like a treasure of knowledge but the youngsters were misusing it. He urged parents to check activities of their children and guide them to use social media for obtaining knowledge.
Aneela Shaheen, another journalist, termed Facebook a useful source of information for all those, who were given no space on television and newspapers for expressing their views and emotions. She said that it was like a free of cost effective platform. “The print and electronic media is not supposed to accommodate derogatory and insulting statements but one can easily upload harsh words on Facebook to express his/her emotions,” she added.
Ms Shaheen said that sometimes educated people used Facebook for sharing very substandard stuff. She also suggested restrictions on uploading of objectionable material on social media because such things could create social problems in the society.
“I use it (social media) mostly for games,” Sigtain Ali, another IT expert, said. He said that people were using it so regularly as if they had been assigned it and paid wages for it.
Imran Shahid, a deputy director of FIA, told Dawn that cyber crimes unit of FIA was working on checking misuse of such things and taking action in case of public complaints.
“There is lack of awareness among people about the cyber crime unit of the FIA, which is working effectively to check unwanted and disgusting material on internet and Facebook. It can locate the place of origination of an ID,” he said.
Mr Shahid said that unaware people were in the habit to register complaints with police but it was not duty of the police because only FIA had the facilities to check and block unwanted stuff. He said that they could also seek help of relevant departments including Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and even Yahoo and Google for the purpose.
Published in Dawn, August 31, 2014