Some unfortunate aspects of social media in Pakistan

With increased internet penetration in Pakistan, the youth of the country has taken enthusiastically to connecting and socializing via social media networks. It has allowed expression and surfacing of youth voices like never before. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Thumblr, Blogsphere etc. have offered convenient public forums for a large number of people to interact, to share their stories, information, personal experiences or views etc. Of the different networks, Facebook remains the most popular here. Sixty two percent of Pakistan’s population consists of the youth, classified as those in the 18 – 24 age range. Of these, 8 million are users of Facebook.

Social media is proving itself as a powerful tool, with the power to change people’s minds, to become an agent for positive social change. It has great potential to sensitize people about issues that were not talked about before or considered taboo. Unfortunately, however, we observe that in Pakistan too, social media and networking platforms are heavily used for hate speech, misogyny and harassing women online. Hence, there is a dire need to turn the tables and take control of technology, to make digital spaces secure for women, and to empower women for their socio-economic well being without threats to their safety. We believe that social media can be used to spread awareness of the harms caused to women with unthoughtful use, to encourage social responsibility and sensitivity, and thus to help prevent violence against women and girls.

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