Need to regulate social media

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Where the information technology has revolutionised almost all spheres of life and changed dimensions of sectors, the social media has got equal importance in opinion making as a forum especially for political activism. Social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube provide have emerged as potent outlets to stimulate citizens engagements in their area of choice like politics, economy, education, engineering, and so on. Gone are the days when the conventional media continued to enjoy a prestigious position and considered a potential medium of opinion making and was a point of pride to get writings printed in it. Now the social media driven by information technology has more importantly provided an easy, accessible, rapid and effective channel to interact and exchange ideas with individuals across the globe. Pakistan, where, according to an international survey, registered the highest number of SMS in 2013, has emerged as one of the few social media driven countries. Personal communications via social media bring politicians and parties closer to their potential voters. It allows politicians to communicate faster and reach citizens in a more targeted manner and disseminate their messages. Reactions, feedback, conversations and debates are generated online as well as support and participation for offline events. Messages posted to personal networks are multiplied when shared, which allow new audiences to be reached. Although the presence of social media is spreading and media usage patterns are changing, online political engagement is largely restricted to people already active in politics and on the Internet while other audiences are less responsive. But even there is no dearth of politicians on twitter. From famous and well known political bigwigs, everyone wants to constantly keep in touch with everyone and dreams of getting more and more popular among the general masses. Though ITCs have made all this possible, yet the social media can also be subject to significant abuse at the same time. Some politicians have been accused of boosting their apparent popularity on social media with legions of followers who dont exist and also of using this medium to smear their opponents. The last years general elections had witnessed the misuse of social media when certain political parties through non-existing social media users manipulated the public opinion on certain issues. This sophistication is more of deception and political dishonesty with the voters. There must be some codes to regulate as well as monitor the ongoing manipulation through social media as this medium is promoting paid or artificial ranking and not the organic results.


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