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Pak deep state’s war on media – The Tribune India

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Tilak Devasher

Member, National Security Advisory Board

Few in India would have heard about Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, though many would know about the Jang/Geo Group that runs several print and electronic platforms in Pakistan. Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, or MSR as he is popularly called, is the Editor-in-Chief of the group and has been in custody since March 12.

MSR was arrested in a 1986 land deal. Whatever the merits of the case, most lawyers agree that the arrest was an egregious attempt at harassment — the investigations were in the initial stages, MSR was fully cooperating with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and all the documents had been seized. Despite this, he was arrested to satisfy the ego of Imran Khan since MSR had refused to ask TV anchors and print journalists to avoid stories critical of the government’s performance. According to politicians quoted in the media, Imran Khan was on record as having said he would fix Jang/Geo.

In Pakistan, the use of instruments of state to persecute opponents has been par for the course. Despite this, the kind of vindictiveness and pettiness shown by Imran Khan is unprecedented. The arrest of MSR is simply the latest in the harassment of the media since he became PM.

For months, media groups seen as critical of the government have been targeted. Thus, home delivery of newspapers was disrupted by threatening distributors and hawkers; government advertisements more or less disappeared from some media groups; cable operators were told to either block channels or shift the location from their usual slot to the last numbers on the cable network to confuse viewers. The purpose was to reduce the viewership/readership while starving targeted groups of advertisements to ensure that they fell in line.

In 2019, a live Geo News interview of former President Asif Zardari by well-known journalist Hamid Mir was cut short after just a few minutes without any explanation. A live interview with Maryam Nawaz, daughter of Nawaz Sharif, on Hum News was ‘stopped forcefully’ a few minutes into transmission. The signals of three other Pakistani TV news channels, AbbTakk TV, 24 News and Capital TV, were suddenly suspended from cable TV services on July 8, 2019, and remained suspended for several days due to coverage of Maryam Nawaz.

Journalists like Talat Hussain, Najam Sethi, Nusrat Javed and Murtaza Solangi have been forced out of their jobs. Some like Taha Siddiqi and Gul Bukhari were lucky to have found refuge abroad. Some like Sajid Hussain, who had been living in asylum in Sweden for his reporting on Balochistan, have turned up dead.

To protest MSR’s arrest, the workers of the Jang/Geo group have launched countrywide demonstrations and established hunger strike camps in different cities. Various media organisations and prominent Opposition politicians have joined them, seeking MSR’s release. The legal fraternity and business groups, too, have declared the arrest illegal.

The developments have been noticed internationally. The US State Department has viewed the arrest ‘with concern’; in the UK, parliamentarians have condemned the incident. The Commonwealth Journalists Association has called on Pakistan to release MSR. Another organisation has filed complaints at the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. The International Press Institute, in a letter to Imran Khan, has expressed its extreme concern over the continued detention of MSR, saying it was designed to convey the message that any criticism of the government would have dire consequences for the survival of an independent Press in Pakistan.

Despite all this, Imran Khan continues to lie through his teeth when asked about curbs on the media. All that he parrots is that Pakistani media has more freedom than the British media and cites his own experience of living in the UK for 18 years.

Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) directly contradicted Imran Khan when it termed his assertion of freedom an obscenity. In an open letter on July 31, 2019, it called on him to recognise the alarming decline in the state of Press freedom in his country and to take urgent measures to address it. According to the World Press Freedom index 2020, the RSF indicated that Pakistani media had become a priority target for the country’s ‘deep state’ and the influence of the establishment had increased dramatically since Imran Khan became PM in 2018. In a recent report, the European Commission noted that there had been a ‘serious deterioration of media freedom in Pakistan, a trend that began in the lead-up to the general election in 2018’, with national security widely used as a ‘pretext for cracking down on freedom of expression’.

Realising that Imran Khan had boxed himself into a corner with the media, the army has stepped in and appointed one of their own, Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa (retd), former DG ISPR, as adviser to the PM on information. From this vantage point, he would attend cabinet meetings and keep an eye on the government’s functioning. It would be interesting to see how he retrieves the situation. For one thing, it is quite likely that MSR would be released on bail sooner or later to defuse the immediate media anger and animosity towards the government. For the longer term, Bajwa’s brief would be to rebuild Imran’s image and popularity that has taken a severe beating since he became PM, and especially due to his poor handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. This would indeed be an uphill task, given Imran Khan’s incapacity to govern.

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The Internet Vs. Trump: Should Travelers Be Forced To Disclose Social Media History? – Forbes

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What if Australia or Egypt or Kenya required you to disclose your Twitter and Facebook history before allowing you in? Would you visit India or China or Thailand if you had to first divulge your history on Reddit, YouTube and Instagram?

For the past year, the State Department has required that new U.S. visa applicants disclose of all social media handles, including pseudonyms, used over the prior five years on 20 platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, Myspace, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine and Chinese sites Douban, QQ, Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo, and Youku; Russian social network VK; Belgian site Twoo; and Latvian site Ask.fm.

“Failure to provide accurate and truthful responses on a visa application or during a visa interview may result in denial of the visa by a consular officer,” according to a State Department FAQ document. “In the case of an applicant who has used any of the social media platforms listed on the visa application in the preceding five years, the associated social media identifier would be required on the visa application form.”

Now a large group of Silicon Valley’s heaviest hitters are challenging the Trump Administration’s 2019 rules requiring that nearly all U.S. visitors disclose five years’ worth of social media history.

In court papers filed last Thursday, Twitter, Reddit and the Internet Association — whose members also include Facebook, Amazon.com, Alphabet, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Expedia and others — said the government’s rules force foreign visitors “to surrender their anonymity in order to travel to the United States.” The document argues, “By requiring speakers to reveal their online identifiers in order to enter the United States — as a blanket matter and without any tailoring to situations where there is a specific need for that information — and by subjecting their online activities to potentially indefinite scrutiny once they are in the country, the Registration Requirement and related retention and dissemination policies chill a vast quantity of speech and associational activity.”

MORE FROM FORBESTSA Wants A DIY Airport Security Option ‘Just Like Self-Checkout At Grocery Stores’

The Internet Association is throwing its support behind two documentary filmmaker groups, the Doc Society and the International Documentary Association, that filed a lawsuit last December. One of their main arguments is that views expressed on social media activity can be subjective. The document warns visitors to the U.S. to “consider the risk that a U.S. official will misinterpret their speech on social media, impute others’ speech to them, or subject them to additional scrutiny or delayed processing because of the views they or their contacts have expressed.”

The State Department has stated that these rules were prompted by Trump’s 2017 order requiring heightened vetting of visa applications. Previously, the U.S. collected contact information, travel history, family information, and prior addresses. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expanding its collection of social media information and using it to evaluate the security risks posed by foreign and American travelers.

In 2019, domestic and international travelers spent $1.1 trillion in the U.S. and directly supported 9 million U.S. jobs, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

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Trump tweets threat to shutter social media companies after Twitter warning – CBC.ca

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U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to regulate or shut down social media companies, one day after Twitter Inc. for the first time added a warning to some of his tweets prompting readers to fact-check the president’s claims.

Trump, without offering any evidence, reiterated his accusations of political bias by such technology platforms, tweeting: “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”

He added: “Clean up your act, NOW!!!!”

Representatives for Twitter and Facebook could not be immediately reached for comment on Trump’s tweets. Shares of the companies were down in pre-market trading following his posts.

In the pair of early morning posts, the Republican president again blasted mail-in ballots as being rife with fraud — though there is no evidence that’s the case, and many Americans have used mail-in ballots in previous elections. Five states currently use only mail-in voting for all elections.

Trump posted similar tweets about the ballot topic on Tuesday, which had moved Twitter to add an alert, signified by a blue exclamation mark, below the tweets to warn his claims may be inaccurate or unsubstantiated, and direct readers to a page of news articles and information about the topic.

(@realDonaldTrump/Twitter)

Twitter said it was the first time it had applied a fact-checking label to a tweet by the president, in an extension of its new “misleading information” policy, which was introduced earlier this month to combat misinformation about the coronavirus.

The dramatic shift by the tech company, which has tightened its policies in recent years amid criticism that its hands-off approach has allowed misinformation to thrive, had prompted Trump to accuse it of interfering in the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

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Social media isn't a one-size-fits-all marketplace. This training explains it all – The Next Web

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TLDR: The courses in The 2020 Social Media Marketing Bootcamp Certification Bundle explain how to launch effective digital campaigns to drive sales on all the top social media platforms.

There’s more to being a social media expert than logging into Facebook every day or making sure you’re keeping a close eye on your Twitter mentions. True social media experts need to fully understand their target audience, where they congregate and how to connect with them effectively. And with dozens of venues and approaches to choose from, that’s no simple task.

With training like The 2020 Social Media Marketing Bootcamp Certification Bundle ($29.99, over 90 percent off from TNW Deals), those looking to harness the power of social media behind their brand have an easy-to-follow blueprint for raising awareness, engaging potential customers, and converting sales, all via the world’s biggest social platforms.

The collection includes seven courses featuring more than 34 hours of instruction for assembling the best marketing strategies possible for deployment on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and more.

The training starts with the Digital Marketing Foundations 101 course, which launches even first-timers toward all the steps in building a digital marketing plan. This immersive training looks at all the basics, from email marketing, building a website, SEO, digital advertising, measurement, and analytics.

Next, Social Media Foundations 101 and Social Media Strategy are a pair of introductory courses that get beyond theory into actual digital marketing practice. This training offers solid plans for creating a stellar business presence on social media, defining marketing goals, target audiences, and content strategies, and understanding how each social media platform fits into your business strategy.

The remaining courses dig into tactics for learning the strengths and weaknesses of the best platforms for finding and developing a social media following for your brand. Facebook Marketing, Instagram Marketing, and LinkedIn Marketing may seem like similar areas of study, but once you get inside the mechanics of each outlet, you’ll start to understand the differences in each audience.

Finally, Facebook Advertising goes inside paid advertising on the powerful platform, explaining how to master ad targeting and buying options to get the most reach for your money.

Each course in the bundle is a $299 value, but by picking up the entire collection right now, you cut your final price down to just $29.99.

Prices are subject to change.

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