Raymond Davis and uncontrollable social media

Published: March 18, 2011

The debate has evolved from an argument over Davis to politics, ethics and religion

I realised the impact of social media on Wednesday when the news of Raymond Davis’ release was announced on news channels.

I am a journalist, but I wasn’t as quick to disseminate information as social network websites like Facebook and Twitter were.

The ‘breaking news’ had barely hit the airwaves when my phone, email inbox and Facebook were flooded with messages. People were looking for confirmation of the news, personal opinions and, of course, were venting anger against the government.

Less than an hour later, as more information was revealed, discussions and debates began to emerge. I took a keen interest and silently observed how Pakistanis all over the world reacted to the news. One group accused the government of everything from conspiracies and propaganda to corruption and bribery.

At the same time, many supported the government too. This group of people believed Davis’ release was a wise decision as our nation in present times needs the US as its ally. They were of the opinion that this was bound to happen and had expected this from day one, and so, had no strong feelings on the matter.

As if the comments, tweets and messages were not enough, I got a long e-mail of snapshots of Davis, his profile and his crime. In short, the entire case history, with a message in the end to sign the email with my name to protest against his release, before forwarding it along to 20 people and if I ignored it, I would be “jinxed” for life.

In fact, after a while, Davis was practically forgotten – the debate now centred around ‘anti-government vs pro-government’, ‘justice vs partiality’, the ‘elite vs the poor’, ‘gora vs kala’!

In this inundation of comments, many had become politically incorrect, socially absurd and morally insane.

This is where social media has gone wrong. Factually incorrect messages and news are circulated without the sender having the slightest bit of knowledge on the matter. The event made me realise that social media has seriously gotten out of hand.


Faryal Najeeb

A sub-editor on the business pages of The Express Tribune. She has a passion for commerce journalism.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://kashifiat.wordpress.com/ Hamza Baloch

    I just want to add..
    It is very irritating to see hundreds of things on same topic.. even sometime with same words.

    Social media, give us information so quickly, that we have to forget the previous one to update our mind with current happenings.Recommend

  • parvez

    I am from the old school of thought and the very idea of this social network craze is anathema to me. I would call it ‘ shooting your mouth off’ ‘ without first understanding the issue. As the movie showed the original idea was to keep track of girls, boys and parties.
    Then it bacame a runaway train and now, as you say, its out of hand and being used for everything.
    I think the answer lies with the user and not so much the product.Recommend

  • Shazada Zahid Malik Loan

    I think there is some truth in what the writer says but the social media is all part of an evolution and revolution that is going on in Pakistan – that revolution and evolution is an attempt to catch up with the rest of the world. The democratically elected or military dictatorships had delayed this process for 30 years and it cannot be wrested – it will find its own pace before it settles down and mature. I would not worry about this – it is healthy.Recommend

  • Mawali

    I guess you don’t watch or read the Pakistani news media. Stop queching!Recommend

  • Adil Raza

    Social media is promoting public opinion, while, public opinion is neither public nor an opinion. Especially in our country, where there is huge gaps between various economic classes of individuals and families, relying on social media to be correct would be equal to living in fools paradise.Recommend

  • Hanif awan

    Come on ! Is it a SOCIAL MEDIA? no, most of them are DRUM BEATERS.One of our channels , showed the pictures of one of the KILLED , having a pistol in his hand,but now , the same GENTLEMAN has become a GHERATMAND.The new born baby is a victim of MONKEYS.May ALLAH save us from different MAFIAS,treating the pakistani nation like SHEEP.Recommend

  • http://www.6la8.com Confused

    I agree. The uncontrollable social media needs to be controlled. Supervise all emails and fb messages, censor all who lie or spread misinformation.
    Bring it back to the days when it wasn’t all politically incorrect. Good ol’ 1984.
    Don’t worry about it, it won’t be long before people realize everything on the web isn’t a fact, its just a new thing here and takes time. Meanwhile, have fun with the masala.Recommend

  • Aslam Zahid

    When Raymond Davis was captured there was not any Drone attacks and sucide bomb blasts in Pakistan. But when we released him……..on that day 3 Drone Attacks and after that numbers of sucide attacks…whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy…………??????Recommend