Social media could help reform the system and society, but who cares!

The era of industrialization has left a deep impression on human lives, but the advent of social media has had an even greater impact on the masses.

According to Sensis Social Media Report 2020, eight out of 10 people in Australia regularly use social media. And over 40% of all large companies use social media for their brand communications and advertising purposes. For example, Brisbane City Council in Australia saved lives and businesses in 2010-2011 through its social media platforms when floods hit, but we cannot do the same in 2022.

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The global social media market is estimated to have grown from $159.68 billion in 2021 to $221.29 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate of 38.6%. Similarly, the number of social media users worldwide grew from 4.2 billion in January 2021 to 4.62 billion in January 2022. This represents a 10.1% growth in global social media usage. . It is optimistic that internet penetration in Pakistan stands at 36.5% of the total population or 82.90 million internet users with 71.70 million active social media users.

The use of social media is also increasing rapidly in our country and this should be a wake-up call for government institutions. Billions of rupees can be saved if the government skillfully uses social media platforms other than traditional methods of advertising. The government can post advertisement on social media and provide an environment for interaction with citizens. Whatever questions people may have in their minds need to be answered. LESCO started holding facebook kutcheries (open courts) when the corona pandemic broke out.

People use social media not only to advertise their business but also to show off their creativity and get news. Besides that, people also use it for entertainment and political purposes. Imran Khan’s PTI has taken the initiative to use social media platforms to spread his political views in Pakistan. Twitter has been widely used to inform, guide and mobilize disaffected youth for the infamous Arab Spring unrest. PTI follows suit.

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Around the world, social media has become a budding industry more than traditional media tools. The mobile phone has become a source of income for those who anticipate others and also know how to take advantage of their creative talents.

At first, much attention was paid to this and the fledgling Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) was established after Shehbaz Sharif came to power in 1997. The PITB was responsible for setting up good paperless governance, business facilitation and promotion of e-commerce. Meanwhile, the National Information Technology Council had warned government departments not to use WhatsApp-like apps for official purposes to avoid a data breach. However, it is common for Whatsapp to be used since then to send official documents. The Inspector General of Punjab Police has also recently issued a WhatsApp number for filing complaints by the people. However, official social media platforms have failed to address public complaints and ensure good public-centric governance.

For this reason, not only corruption, inefficiency and bad practices are also rampant in ministries. The corruption market is kept hot by keeping the public oblivious. More or less, all service providers must update people on their social media accounts so that it becomes easy for customers to access the specified service provider to resolve their issues. The police, tax, WASA, health, district administration and even the courts can update their websites with the necessary advice, but to no avail. This often leads to poor administration and is also a violation of the public right to information. This colonial legacy should be removed now.

In this regard, the Chief Secretary of Punjab should assign the task to the PITB and then he should also consider how well the department has been able to resolve the issues. The PITB should also compel all other service-providing departments to do the same. There should be a mechanism to give weight to the customer’s opinion of the effectiveness of the service. It should be used to determine the performance of an official and the opinion of the public should also be taken into account.

Many of our neighboring countries, including India, have made significant progress in the IT sector. This has led the company towards improvement.

In a discussion with an information technology expert, Mr. H Ibrahim, in this regard, he said that it can bring self-reliance, good governance, social change and poverty alleviation.

He said that a large part of our population is made up of women and confined to their homes. They can also be included in the training technology race so that they can also play their part and increase the income of the family. In this regard, PITB needs to extend its network to the village level so that people are not only informed but also educated on how to use their mobile phones to become useful citizens. He said ride-sharing companies like inDrive and Uber/Careem have created software and are making money without owning a single vehicle. Our IT giants may need to hire experts who can guide people on how to grow, develop and prosper, both individually and collectively.

Referring to Kejriwal, a former Aam Awam party bureaucrat, he told how he refined a corrupt and conservative society on modern lines. He surprised the whole world in many ways. A good number of services are provided to the people at their doorstep. Why is it not possible to do this in our country, he asked. Our institutions only work for the welfare of their bosses and the people are the least concern. We have officers who seek only to please their political masters. Their duties are not to solve people’s problems because that has nothing to do with their promotion. Many officers arrive at rank 22 without having a single notable achievement to their credit in the service as a whole.

We have seen officers doing nothing while on duty; but after retirement, these parasites run their businesses successfully. Take the example of Amjad Saqib, who founded Akhuwat which is considered a successful NGO. But its services have never been used in the public sector. Shoaib Sultan, the founder of the Agha Khan rural support program, was also a former civil servant who won laurels around the world.

If the government wishes, it can communicate directly with its citizens through social media and its effects can go beyond press conferences, television or radio advertisements.

It is the job of institutions such as the PITB to focus on the new generation who are more tech-savvy. Council can require all departments, also a right to know required, to use public relations officers to update social media accounts to facilitate citizens. Unfortunately, ours quickly became a consumer society after the dawn of social media. A businessman benefited from it, but in terms of services, our institutions did not benefit enough.

It is also the responsibility of our institutions to inform consumers that cyber-harassment can also occur on social media and how to avoid it.

Dan Pfeiffer, senior adviser to former US President Barack Obama, once said that anything that breaks down barriers between the public and politicians is a good thing. It can be added here that social media companies are now investing in audio content, live shopping, the creator economy and more. Social media has become a source of inspiration, entertainment and news. Interestingly, it has also become one of the most effective digital marketing tools of the recent past, with more businesses than ever before.

Only Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf understood and used social media platforms in the absence of mainstream media coverage. Other parties and top babus are hiding their heads in the sand to deal with emerging realities. We must wake up soon or India will soon force us to eat grass.

“Seize the moment. A man was never meant to be an oyster.

Theodore Roosevelt

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About Shirley L. Kreger

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