Abusive hashtags targeting journalists become top Twitter trends in Pakistan

Published: April 26, 2019
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PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOTO: REUTERS

Twitter users in Pakistan were shocked on Friday to find that most of the top trends on the popular microblogging site included such cuss words which we cannot reproduce here.

A guessing game started about the initiators of the trends targeting some media persons, with PTI, PML-N and PPP supporters pointing accusatory finger at each other for “stooping to new lows” in their political slugfests.

The highly abusive hashtags started trending after hundreds of users with political affiliations jumped into the fray. At one point, six of the top trends in Pakistan left apolitical users wondering if there was something wrong with Twitter.

Turned out it was happening and nothing was wrong with Twitter. This triggered a debate on the moral values and tolerance level of those participating in the slur campaign against the journalists they didn’t like.

The abusive trends scaled up the trending list and stayed there throughout the day when people used these hashtags to condemn them.
It was later in the evening that a new trend with

#staystrongBravejournalist – started in solidarity with the journalist community – called upon the Twitter authorities to take action against the offenders.

The journalist fraternity also called for the social media trolls to respond to criticism with debate, and not with abusive language.

Activist Gul Bukhari said in a tweet that such campaign is harmful for free speech and democracy.

Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri taking an initiative against the slur campaign with trend #SocialMedia Ethics asked his supporters to refrain from becoming its part.

Dr Aamir Liaquat Hussain, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawmaker and media personality, called for his followers to discourage such campaigns.

Besides journalists and politicians, common people also lamented the smear campaign against the journalist community.

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