Pakistani journalists targeted in yet another hateful online campaign

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Another day, another hate campaign against Pakistani journalists

A latest Twitter based hate campaign against prominent Pakistan journalists portrays them as ‘greedy, treacherous and unscrupulous individuals’ who need to be disciplined if we were to save this country.

Some eight thousand plus tweets have been piled up by Twitter users under the hashtag #صحافت_کریں_غلاظت_نہیں which can be loosely translated to “Stop polluting/ besmirching and do some [actual] journalism”, implying that the journalists use their influence to secure personal interests at the cost of perceived national interests. The hashtag trended at number 1 in Pakistan within few hours of its appearance.

 

The accusations are known and aft repeated and the language symbolic of this network of fake bots that has run similar campaigns in the past. The campaign is dotted with slurs, serious allegations and brazen character assassination. Some of the allegations like that of treason, though unsubstantiated, can endanger the life of the victims. However, such serious accusations have now become commonplace in Pakistani digital space.

Invective and vitriol are hallmarks of hate campaigns.

The campaigners also exhibited violent tendencies towards the journalists.  This Twitter user calls for hanging these journalists, because he believes they toe agendas for money.

This twitter user has a rather disturbing perception of the journos.

 This one proposes strict accountability to ‘control’ the journos.

The campaign seems to have expanded to target more and more journalists.

Allegations of treason come handy as a way to harass journalists, as accusers in Pakistan’s digital space are not obliged to carry the burden of proof.

Top English daily Dawn is accused of toeing Indian agenda by publishing 90% anti-Pakistan Indian comments. The user doesn’t seem to realize that comments are user generated and newspapers will require additional resources to moderate such huge bulks of content.

The campaign, once again, has all the attributes of being politically motivated and engineered. It targets its usual suspects, including top journalists Hamid Mir, Asma Shirazi, Shahzeb Khanzada, Mansoor Ali Khan and Gharida Farooqi among many others. The majority of the accounts behind the campaign appear to be fake bots, which share the same bits of information and graphics again and again to propel the hashtag higher up on the trends.

Journalists and rights activists in Pakistan continuously complain about the shrinking space for media freedom. They alleged that tactics like intimidating and harassing journalists are used to gag their voices.

 

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