The state of digital media freedoms in Pakistan remained weak during 2020-21 due to regulatory pressures and threats against online expression

Sadia Bibi

The world of social media seems to me as the magical orb of the Arabian Nights with different events and stories trapped inside. We have heard in stories about those magical objects in which a magician look and could see happenings around them.

Social media is also such a magical sphere where most of the youths are engaged.

It would not be wrong to say that social media has not allowed the youth rather people from all over the world to connect without meeting each other in real life. It has also provided them with financial platform and freedom of expression. In addition to this, all kind of information is now just a click away and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp have eroded physical distances between humans.

However, at the same time, social media has the double edged potential to increase and reduce the distances and differences between people. In the past, people had no platform to air their views; however, now even those working for print and electronic media are also actively using the social media.

Social media as a communication medium

Social media provides best medium for communication among people and enables is to directly talk to each other. It also enables us to understand, appreciate and views of others. In reality, social media provides opportunities to listen to other and convey one’s thoughts to them. This medium is so potent that it could be put to use for indoctrination.

Sometimes, social media shows us what mainstreams media fails to show, thus, providing us with the other side of the story. A common citizen with a phone makes video and shares on social media in situation like Kashmir, Myanmar, coverage of political gatherings, citizen journalism and those low lying areas of cities, which mainstream media could not reach.

In addition to this, it can be used for sharing Quran and Hadith after taking necessary care.

Besides, social media provides work from home opportunity to women. Similarly, when the Covid-19 pandemic brought the world to standstill, it also introduced the world to the work from home and new software and apps like Zoom, Google Meet and Free Conference Dot.Com.

All this was a radical shift.

Social media addiction

Is excessive use of social media wrong?

However, nothing is either good or bad in itself and the way it is used is what matters. It is mostly us human who either use things negatively or positively.

Spending too much time on social media wastes much of student’s time and they end up scoring fewer marks.

I asked my teacher about the difference between news shared by mainstream and social media. She told me that news shared by social media is verified; however, on social media everyone could share anything. Fake news at times leads to harm. Similarly, there is an abundance of fake accounts to sow disinformation. Besides, there is also porn and indecency. Social media also hates fan through posts and comments.

PUBG is a case in point, which led to several deaths to its excessive use.

Similarly, excessive social media use promotes physical inactivity among youths and deprives us of sharing good time with close family members. Hacking, harassment and extortion are being done by both criminals’ as well common folks.

Therefore, one should pay attention to both the pros and cons of social media.

Besides, one should also be careful of posts and people spreading discord, fake news and indecency.

You should also not share your personal information on social media, use two step authentication; share only verified content and monitor use of your children social media.

Also designate a time for your social media use and use this magic sphere only positively.

Saeeda Bibi is a student and blogs about social problems.

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