We are living in a war zone. We just don’t know it yet!
For a very long time now, social media has both been a blessing and an abomination. Smart phone users around the World rely solely on social media for entertainment, news and updates. Click and upload has been a trend of Generation Z. But the question is, is social media only a harmless source of leisure and amusement or a fabrication of the actual truth? Reality of the situation is that majority of the social media users do not know the REALITY OF THE SITUATION.
As the data reads, 3.6b population of the World is currently glued to their screens. YouTube wins the race by keeping 2b users entertained. Facebook secured second position holding attention of 1.69b people. This data of total internet user accounts for half the population of the Earth which could soon be renamed e-Earth (pun intended), if the situation continues. Twitter, a micro-information app, however, has the least number of users but the most influential ones. Once considered a not-so-good app, twitter has maintained and in fact regained its popularity by good numbers. Approximately, 23% of the internet population is on twitter including famous journalists, politicians and ambassadors. 500 million tweets posted each day has made this an excellent platform for people looking for authentic information coming directly from the intended. After a number of fake accounts that were created intentionally put a big question mark on the credibility of the app, twitter now relies upon Reuters News Tracer which uses algorithmic intelligence to look for bot accounts and verifies breaking news on twitter.
With such an impressive number of people tweeting and texting, presumably this is the best forum where nations fight and win their wars without exhibiting causalities. Economies excel, sustain or collapse in a matter of minutes. Countries use a no-fight approach and come out clean without employing an actual war-force. No extra army recruitment, a decreased war-fare budget with the added benefits of zero environmental pollution. This is how the concept of 5th generation warfare came into being. Countries with a bigger number of population and negative means of technology are by far the most successful in staging people solely dedicated to this purpose. Malwares are created every minute in a dark alley somewhere in the middle of nowhere and can gain unauthorized access to your smart phone in minutes. Millions of tweets about current news and views are uploaded with billions of viewers which brings us to the bigger question. Have we entered a war zone? Is it really that simple to pass on your reviews and judgment? Can unauthorized and unconfirmed news spread like wildfire and damage be done in seconds, no matter how quick the denial from the concerned authorities comes? A simple answer to this question would be, yes! With cyber security the main concern nowadays, hackers around the World are busy tracking your banking transactions, trespassing on personal grounds by invading your data, codes being passed in a multitude of seconds and information transferred by named websites with the law enforcing agencies and government, nothing remains personal nowadays. You may call to order a pizza but you would be astounded by the information the pizza company has about you. People pass baseless information solely for the purpose of fun without confirming its authenticity, making this a more dangerous medium than you may think.
So how actually 5th generation warfare works? It is actually a battle of information and perceptions. It is a moral and cultural war with completely different dynamics. An article about 4th Generation warfare reveals how terrorist organization use online stores and websites to collect information about users. But that information is used for various terrorist group activities and suicide bombings. Economies are paralyzed by these groups that spread terror and fear among people. While the 5th generation warfare uses a wholly unique concept of maligning enemies and supporting allies all through a hybrid realm. As reported by EU disinfo Lab, 256 websites are functional and work just to defame Pakistan. It is therefore very important for internet users to understand the realities of 4th and 5th generation warfare to better understand the true character of our enemy and their intentions. Never was the passing and handling of information so easily done and yet so difficult to monitor. We are living in a time where vulnerable emotions can easily be hijacked. It is easy to take control of young minds by passing vague ideas and atrocities all in the name of liberalism and openness. Unaccompanied minors process information fairly quick and are hasty in making decisions. While, the author in no way is against liberty of words and ideas, it is imperative that these should always be reined in.
India uses social media as a prominent platform to malign Pakistan and pass rebuffed information all the time. One needs to filter information available on the internet before believing it. Indian journalists were condemned multiple times by international figures for passing unconfirmed news and misleading social media users around the World. In an article published in 2020 by BBC, which became a top story later on, a number of fake accounts and defunct organizations in India were identified that were involved in processing fake news. India has used social media as a platform for all its pathetic claims against Pakistan only to be met with defeat in the end. On the other hand, Pakistanis are known to be compliant with the norms and rules of use of social media set by the Government of Pakistan.
So is there any surveillance and monitoring being done by our law enforcing and intelligence agencies? Are we keeping a close watch on what is being said about us, where and by whom? The answer is a certain yes. A group of individuals around us all are continuously looking for hate induced speeches and tweets by powerful figures around the World. If we need to win this war, we need to keep our eyes and ears open all the time. It should be duly noted that Federal Investigation Agency and PTA have set up an entire set of directives that need to be adhered to. Be a responsible citizen while posting and commenting online, after all it is cumulative effort.
There is a positive side if this picture too. Social media had gauged its users and kept them entertained during the most depressing times of the pandemic. During strict lockdowns and sit-ins, Facebook is what kept us going. People were hooked to their smart phones for fun and distraction. A sense of belonging and wellness was brought upon by the close social media community. People could relieve their tensions and relive a few moments of happiness online. While depressing news was all we could hear, a silly meme about the virus made us laugh. It was used as a platform for creating awareness (sometimes panic too!) and developing strategies to find a solution.
In its wake, technology has created more wrongs than right however one can’t deny its importance. But to win this war both locally and globally, quick restorative steps need to be taken and in due time to counteract any moves made by our foes. A powerful hybrid strategy using technical masterminds need to be made urgently, to defend national integrity.
The author has done masters in pharmacy but found her skills best utilized in the field of research and writing. She is based in Karachi.
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