Social media is an internet-based form of communication”. A platform that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, interests, and other forms of expression through virtual communities and networks”.
In the contemporary era of globalization and technological advancement the use of internet and social media has become a common norm. It gives access to international community to access information from anywhere in the world at any time.
Billions of people around the world are using different social media networks (SMN) like twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, messenger, skype, Imo, Viber and many more for sharing information and making their contacts. These sites proved itself to be a real game changer in the 21st century. Now it has become a important tool of information and entertainment, and nobody can deny it. Even people cannot live without using it. Today, life without social media is almost impossible. It is an age of information and every one can get it by just clicking one button.
During the COVID-19 pandemic the use of social media sites have increased in Gov’t and private institutions. They conducted online classes, tests, interviews, meeting, webinars and even patients have consulted online with their doctors. Multinational companies are using it for their business and marketing purpose.
People in world always have difference of opinion. These differences often lead to hatred and destruction. Emotions play vital role in this game. Tolerance level of users is mostly on the lower side and they don’t like those who disagree with them. Youth on social media platforms are mostly full of extreme emotions and not willing to accept any difference of opinion.
Special pages and groups have been created on social media to target particular community or groups to create polarization in the society. This hatred has become a poison tree which is a dangerous for society.
The rapid use of social media networks have increased the presence of non-sate actors on Social media sites. Even international terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda, Daesh, ISIS, PKK, and many others are openly using these social media networks across the glob for spreading their narrative, agenda’s, negativity against the states and state institutions.
They are using these plate forms for their political objectives, spreading fake news, disinformation and false narrative, brainwashing tactics, disturbs the peace and bring instability in vulnerable states. Terrorist organizations also use Social Media tools to misguide youth to incite extreme emotions, for gathering information, recruiting members, fund raising, and for propaganda schemes to achieve dangerous objectives.
In authoritarian regimes the access of political information and internal media coverage is limited. Web sites and e-mails provide an alternate plat form of information. Political parties and right wing groups of any country often use social media sites to create unrest and instability to achieve their political goals.
Now social media networks have become a influential tools of Fifth Generation Warfare, aims to divide and split the society and country.Through social media, propaganda, fake news, and cybercrimes spread. Fifth-generation Warfare against Pakistan have deepened, especially in Balochistan. EU DisinfoLab has exposed Indian anti-Pakistan malicious campaign by it’s electronic media, YouTube channels and fake Twitter handles show Indian involvement in Balochistan. India has been operating 265 websites in 65 countries flashing out anti-Pakistan propaganda, mostly in Europe.
In the 2010 during Arab Spring wave, especially in Egypt and Tunisia, where social media played a pivotal role in local uprising. The recent conflict between Russia and Ukraine, pro-Russian accounts are spreading disinformation about Donetsk and Luhansk region which is under Ukrainian control.
Mostly, social media tools are used to drive radicalization and violence through disinformation campaigns. People’s sentiments get hurt by this and this thing creates polarization and unrest in the society.
States should limit the access for anti-state elements who are using this plate form negatively and posing threat to states security. States can censor Internet content through legal channels and through technological means. The governments should also make mechanism to regulate social media networks as the other regulatory bodies are working across the world.
The social media giants should also take notice of such things and try to prevent fake accounts, misuse of their platforms and access to non-state actors who are posing threat to the world. The owners of these platform must ensure positive and factual information on their platform.
The users of social media should have to respect each others social, cultural, democratic and religious norms while posting any content and without hurting others sentiments.
People from all walk of life should discourage the negative use of social media platforms. For this purpose civil society, intellectuals, educational institutions can play an important role. People should understand that If, they are spreading misinformation and hateful comments it means they are contributing to the problem and endangering first of all themselves, then, society, nation and the world.
Mansoor Ahmed is Islamabad based Researcher and Freelancer