LAHORE: Social media giant Facebook has disabled various accounts and pages of the Milli Muslim League (MML), a political faction of Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaatud Dawa.
A couple of months ago, Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg highlighted that it was his priority to make sure his social networking website supports positive discourse and prevents interference in the upcoming elections of Pakistan, India, Brazil, Mexico and other countries.
Recently, the Facebook administration also contacted the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and offered to make an exclusive trend for general elections scheduled to be held on July 25 in Pakistan. The social networking site has also offered help to local authorities to identify and remove fake pages of different political parties.
In response to the Facebook offer, the ECP has responded that the commission does not maintain any official page on the social media website. However, after deliberation among members and senior officers the commission will respond to the Facebook management.
MML spokesperson Tabish Qayyum told journalists that the social networking website has removed numerous accounts of their candidates and workers without giving any reason. He said Facebook’s act is a gross violation of its own policy and sanction on freedom of expression.
He strongly condemned the Facebook action and underscored that freedom of expression is the basic right of every human and political party. “Elections are round-the-corner and all political parties are using social media for electioneering. Deleting MML candidates and workers’ accounts on a particular time is injustice,” he added.
He said that the Facebook administration has guaranteed special protection to pages of the political parties and accounts of their candidates in election 2018. “All political parties are using social media to spread their message. Voters are being attracted by posters and video messages but the MML has been denied this facility without any reason,” he lamented.
Facebook CEO Zuckerberg, in his recent interviews, said that after identification of Russian interference in US elections in 2016, the social media giant has successfully deployed new AI tools that removed tens of thousands of fake accounts.
He added that as per new advertising policy of the Facebook, every advertiser who wants to run political campaign or advertisement has to get his or her account verified. Advertisers have to confirm their identity and location, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2018.