Social media has changed the human condition like nothing before it; the way we communicate, disseminate news, and experience the world are all completely different due to social media platforms. The revolution has come in many forms, in proliferation through connectivity and the democratization of information. Yet, for the young, this digital revolution has raised many pressing questions that must be answered quickly and creatively.

In a way we’ve never seen before, social media has become the force that has defined our digital generation.

They have become daily haunts for hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis, allowing them to communicate and express themselves like never before. Although it has a lot of benefits, it also has its fair share of misinformation. The presence of misinformation on these platforms is particularly dangerous for a society like Pakistan, where misinformation can lead to public health problems and amplify political tensions. This issue deserves a comprehensive response, including government tasks, media literacy, and cooperation among actors.

Given the speed and scope of information generation, it is nearly impossible for any of us to separate the wheat from the chaff. Misinformation leads to the creation and dissemination of fake material. Social media often transmits erroneous content akin to inanity. Therefore, the world is teeming with fakes, conspiracy theories, and special operations. But that leads to the question: how can we ensure freedom of expression without helping to spread fake news?

Misinformation on social media is a problem Pakistan shares with many other countries worldwide. Today, the internet spreads fake news, scams, and conspiracy theories, often resulting in fatalities. Misinformation is a big problem, especially in Pakistan, where digital literacy is very low. Secondly, more and more people, fragmented and isolated by poverty in rural Pakistan, have either had no schooling or have experienced only the most rudimentary form of education. This may prevent them from developing the critical thinking skills to distinguish between fact and fiction.

Since social media has managed to bring smartphones and cheap Internet to everyone, it has had no significant impact, keeping a large percentage of Pakistanis capable of accepting online lies.

Furthermore, droning disinformation merchants can hoodwink and manipulate a substantial portion of Pakistan’s population at the drop of a hat without any government censorship or civil rights intervention, let alone multinational corporations selling information rather than commodities. Addressing these issues comprehensively in Pakistan requires regulation, education, and collaboration from the government, civil society, and social media.

Firstly, it is the government’s responsibility to issue strict guidelines for the media’s release of information on social networking sites. This legislation should include regulations making social media companies bear the responsibility for combating misinformation, regardless of what sense or method they use. Apart from regulations, Pakistan will also need to start a large project on information literacy that informs Pakistanis about the risks of fake news and teaches them how to distinguish between real and false news items.

In a country like Pakistan, you can even have a 10-year-old’s social media account. A lack of age verification could allow children as young as primary school to sign up without knowing or having someone tell them they are legally taking risks and responsibilities the moment they open a profile. Here is a simple solution to the problem of making government policy: there will be policies on social accounts at age 18.

Research indicates that individuals between the ages of 15 and 18 are primarily responsible for disseminating false information, partly because of their incapacity and the simplicity of their ideas.

The fight against fake news on social media contains too much effort and requires everyone to come together under one umbrella. While the challenges of fake news are solvable, they will require an adaptive approach that targets both the technology and social dimensions of the problem. Navigating the terrains of this digital age requires that we maintain our integrity, transparency, and, most importantly, our education.

By promoting media literacy, enforcing regulations effectively, and collaborating with the government, civil society, and social media platforms, Pakistan can take positive steps towards preventing misinformation from permeating the entire society and becoming an insidious phenomenon that hinders the development of an informed, resilient, and democratic society. The journey ahead will not be easy, but with resolve and a united front, we can shape a world where truth still matters and the common individual is educated enough to tread the digital landscape with confidence and prudence.

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