ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Thursday asked Twitter to take action against the accounts spreading blatant lies about Pakistan.

The PTA made the request after comic hashtag mentioning civil war and bloodshed in Sindh, particularly Karachi, topped trends on the social media platform suggesting the opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement leaders along with the police were fighting against the armed forces and killing each other for the control of the mega city.

Hashtag #CivilWarInPakistan drew more than 18,700 tweets while #CivilWarinKarachi over 3,384 tweets. A glance at the messages, footage and animated clips shared only gives an impression of mockery. But they were floated as if they were true.

These tweets, despite being comical, were floated from serious accounts, too, as @bookscache referred to CNN News18, saying, “#CivilWarInPakistan has gone out of control, both sides using gunships and artillery guns. Casualties feared to cross both World Wars combined, Pakistani opposition party leaders are seen in military uniforms fighting fiercely. UN likely to intervene.”

Comic CivilWarInPakistan tops Twitter trends

Not only Twitter went amok over the “bloody fighting in Karachi”, even the mainstream electronic media, including India Today, Zee News CNN18 and India.com, reported a civil war-like situation in Karachi on Wednesday in context with the inquiry ordered by Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa over the circumstances surrounding the arrest of opposition PML-N leader Mohammad Safdar in Karachi.

The reaction on Twitter not only came from citizens but also from the cabinet members, including Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari, Minister for Ports and Shipping Ali Zaidi and Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir chairman Shehryar Afridi.

Meanwhile, Minister for Information Technology Aminul Haq held a meeting with the PTA officials over the anti-Pakistan content on social media.

In a tweet, Mr Haq said that posts containing baseless news and propaganda against Pakistan on Twitter were part of Indian lobby using social media against Pakistan.

He said it was the responsibility of all social media apps and platforms to prevent such hate speech and fake news. “Twitter administration should immediately remove all posts based on such propaganda and unverified news.”

Mr Haq also slammed Twitter and other social media platforms for blocking the accounts of those who write against injustices in Indian-occupied Kashmir and against Israel.

The PTA approached the Twitter administration to immediately sensitise its moderation teams and ensure that the platform is not used as a propaganda tool for spreading fake information. The PTA regretted that a number of accounts involved in propagation of untrue stories were Twitter-verified and they were still operating with immunity.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2020

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