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June 24, 2012

World active to clean social media ‘gutter’

June 24, 2012

ISLAMABAD: The reports pertaining to allotment of plots and hefty payments to journalists and media persons by Malik Riaz of Bahria Town on social media, that were subsequently denied, have evoked international debate to check the menace. In certain cases, it is argued, this has created an adverse impact on well reputed families and business houses across the world.
One of the two reports was issued by Dr Awab Alvi but he disowned it by claiming that he had downloaded it from a webpage that doesn’t exist any more. A thorough probe is underway at an international as well national level to nab the people who created such a baseless list.
Well placed sources told The News that one of the bogus reports in question was uploaded on the social media printed on a fake undated letterhead of Bahria Town by Dr Awab Alvi who is the son of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) secretary general Arif Alvi. The fabricated report implicated nine distinguished journalists of the country and when the targeted journalists protested about it, the PTI leaders regretted and assured that the party had nothing to do with it. Shafqat Mahmood, central secretary information of the PTI, said that the party is not responsible for someone who might have done this in his individual capacity.
The sources revealed that a number of countries, especially Middle Eastern countries, are actively working against the uploading of fake documents on the social media, and the developed countries of the world are also mulling legislation to check it. Pakistan had stringent laws to check cyber crimes but the law lapsed some years ago because it was promulgated through a presidential ordinance and parliament didn’t take it up afterwards. But the legislation under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure of Pakistan (CrPC) is available to lay hands on such criminals. Action under the laws cannot be ruled out sometime soon, the sources said.
Interestingly, two such false lists were

uploaded on the social media; one was on plain paper listing names of eight journalists and it was posted on a fake twitter account in the name of aitazaz.ahsan which was later suspended while the other was uploaded later on June 14 which carried names of 19 beneficiaries of Bahria Town on a fake letterhead. Bahria Town also rejected the report as fake.
The earlier account is suspended and a probe is underway as to who uploaded it. The later list was uploaded by Dr. Awab Alvi who claimed that he had picked it from facebook page of ProPakistani but the page isn’t available any more.
Such an action of suspending the website, page or account is generally taken after a serious complaint either from the government or anybody who produces evidence beyond any doubt that the information disseminated on it is absolutely fake. Social media entities resort to such an extreme action only after they reach a conclusion that the material on a website or page is slanderous and fake.
Another list is reportedly being uploaded on some social media to implicate working journalists, editors, media house owners and senior columnists to malign them. The campaign is the product of some miscreants who want to disgrace and discredit the media, the sources pointed out. The sources warned media people that another plot was also under way against them in which fabricated audio tapes involving distinguished media personalities and owners were being prepared. They said it was quite easy to fabricate different audio tapes and create new ones.
It is understood that the social media has two paradoxical faces: one is full of knowledge and serves humanity but unfortunately the other one is labelled as ‘gutter’ since it can be used to upload any matter aimed at character assassinating. The person/organisation involved in the dirty work cannot be identified easily although a number of people who were caught in the business have been severely punished in some countries but it doesn’t happen in every case, the sources said.
Talking to this correspondent, a foreign journalist based in Islamabad expressed his astonishment at the importance attached to this kind of media, saying those who considered such social media reports failed to see that the people in the developed world never took such reports seriously. In Pakistan, he added, media brought a bad name to itself by discussing these reports.
The international organisations dealing with communication and regulating it and organisations working for protecting the rights of citizens are hectically busy in evolving a system to catch and check those who are uploading bogus material for their vested interests on the web, the sources pointed out.

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