While governments are formulating policies and legislations that aim to control this menace, the challenge that situation then poses is the authoritative control these same governments can exercise in terms of controlling all narratives.
To underplay the threat disinformation poses in a time when ideological polarisation continues to be mainstreamed through political and social agendas, on national and international platforms, would be a huge mistake. Not that the world at large, or Pakistan in particular, is unaware of that reality given their experience with it so far.
Since its inception, media in Pakistan has struggled to do exactly what it was meant to - to inform the people. Through acts of intimidation and manipulation, press in Pakistan has witnessed decades of suppression especially during military regimes. What is even more worrying is the fact that successive civilian governments continued policies and laws that limited media in its independent functioning. The consequences of failing to parrot the state narrative were simple: silencing of dissent.
With the advent of the digital age, the volume of information readily accessible increased manifold. The speed at which this information is bombarded to users has made the situation even more challenging. This has resulted in limiting the ability of the mainstream media to authenticate information being circulated through digital platforms. But it has also influenced major camps within the media to let go of their journalistic responsibilities and actively become part of a rat race which now manifests itself in the form of the breaking news culture on our television screens.
Given the situation, it is necessary for the public at large to understand that the information they receive holds power to influence their decisions and shape their attitudes. In a bid to counter this, it is essential that people are equipped with critical thinking skills that question any and all information that is thrown at them.
Also read: The mystery of fake news
While states and governments are formulating policies and legislations that aim to control this menace, the challenge that situation then poses is the authoritative control these same governments can exercise in terms of controlling all narratives.
Despite the need for an urgent intervention to address Pakistan’s information disorder problem, the real issue that we need to address is whether we are open to accepting the reality that facts are indeed sacred.