Fawad terms fake news greatest challenge for media

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ISLAMABAD:

Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Friday said the “greatest challenge” being faced by the modern media was the dissemination of false propaganda through fake news.

“The phenomenon of fake news emerged after a revolution in information technology (IT) and an increase in the number of media platforms,” he said while addressing a seminar on ‘politics and journalism in the age of fake news’ organised by Arab News.

The minister was of the view that the international community would have to prepare some rules to counter fake news and the aspect of responsibility would have to be added with freedom of expression.

He stressed the need for a debate on countering fake news inside media organisations and proper training for those involved in the industry.

“A responsible media can only be called an independent media,” Fawad said, alleging that a section of media, especially in social media, was thriving on fake news and they do not want any restriction on fake news and baseless propaganda.

Quoting West examples, the minister said the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union had introduced online security rules. He called for moving in a similar direction.

“Former US president Barack Obama rightly said in 2013 that checking the flow of information is the biggest challenge of modern times as this is being used against political parties, governments and even countries,” he added.

Fawad alleged that India had used non-political incidents for gaining political advantage. A network of over 785 fake websites being run by India was exposed last year that was linked with Indian news agency ANI and leading news channels that used to generate fake news about Pakistan and tried to malign it, he claimed.

“These websites used to create and still had been creating fake news against Pakistan,” he added.

The information minister alleged that the Indian media tried to exploit the Noor Muqaddam murder case and the Greater Iqbal Park incident to portray that Pakistan was not safe for women.

Read Lawyers defenders of democracy, rule of law: Fawad

He added that it was traced that over 175 videos were generated on such incidents daily from Indian websites and tens of thousands of tweets were done and intelligence networks of some neighbouring countries supported this campaign.

Even Pakistani media became part of such vilification campaign without knowing the facts, Fawad said.

In 1996, the minister alleged that India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval managed to stage a fake kidnapping of some tourists in an effort to link the Kashmir struggle with “Islamic extremism”.

Soon after, a vilification campaign was launched that claimed that the Kashmir freedom movement was linked to terrorism, he added.

The minister said: “New Delhi had been declared as the rape capital of the world a couple of years back and India tried to build a counter-narrative to give an impression that such incidents also happened in other parts of the world.”

The minister said that a twist was given to a news item and the difference between real and fake news was blurred by the people involved in this unholy business.

The minister said that when the PTI came to power in 2018, the digital media wing was very strong, adding that the government had taken steps to modernise its digital media and digitalisation of official news agency APP to ensure the presence of national perspective on social media and digital platforms.

He said that during the recent crisis in Afghanistan, contradicting news was emerging but Pakistan tried to provide correct information to both national and international media outlets.

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