GEN 2013: Politics and Media Standards in the Digital Age

Free speech is the bedrock of democratic transformation, but some governments and politicians see independent journalism and social networks as potential threats. What can be done to bridge the gulf in understanding between politics and media?

Pakistan [POINTERS]:

The internet in Pakistan has been since the 90s.

Pakistan’s total population is more than a 180 million people.

Over a hundred and 20 thousand user-base was recorded in 2000.

Now it covers almost 18 percent of the population, crossing over 25 million users.

So the country has the highest internet usage in South Asia.

According to the global literacy rate, Pakistan ranks 113th among 120 nations. Even though the high illiteracy rate threatens the fragile economy.

But this years general elections showed an increase in voter turnout.

The country’s population estimated to be under 30 is almost 60%, this data may now vary as the new definition of young is 40.

The mobile internet users are roughly around 15 million, while the cellular companies are actively pursuing different marketing strategies promoting less expensive rates of using internet over cellphones.

Many of the socio-economic development sectors are focusing on building the capacities of the local NGOs to have a purposeful influence.

Most political parties in Pakistan have social media wings.

Few of the most active groups have been the Tehreek-i-Insaf, Mutahidda Qaumi Movement in the recent elections.

In terms of social media, this years elections received far more coverage than compared to the ones held in 2008.

Many of the campaigning done this year was through blogging, tweets, sharing images videos on social networking websites such as facebook.

It made the political leadership directly connected to the online public. So the technology became the bridging factor. Due to immense security threats many of the political parties resorted to online election campaigning driving public sympathies and votes.

A lot has changed there are socio-politico forums on Facebook that drives online opinions and there about 8 million facebook users in the country. Roughly two million use twitter and a half of that linkedin.

Views are of the opinion that an average of 7% annual growth is seen in social media users.

This data is fragment of what was all being done to attract 80 million registered voters.

Much of the content that we see as being broadcasted or even printed is as a result of a direct interaction online be it over twitter or on facebook between politicians and the public.

In lot of the cases what the information may lack at times is its accuracy or the credibility.

Now, there are different civil society action groups, focusing on information and communication technologies as a fundamental to advocating human rights – somewhat similar to civil liberties. These organizations build capacity on digital security, online safety and privacy. They also drive campaigns against internet censorship and surveillance issues.

Cyber terrorism in Pakistan according to its policy, is either lifetime or 10million rupees. Defamation charges go upto 5 years.

Cyber warfare between India and Pakistan started back in the 90s.

Now while the medium could’ve been used as to bridge the divide between the two nations, it is currently being used by both countries to spread hate inciting malicious intent.

Many donors and development organizations are now inclining towards online portals that, showcases more people-to-people, also business-to-business relationship between the two countries.

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