ISIS runs centralised Twitter accounts to broadcast official statements and news updates. Then it has provincial accounts for each province it is present in, broadcasting a live feed of IS operations. They have been so wildly successful on social media that the US State Department is engaging young people, sometimes even jihadists to post on popular Arab websites. This is to broadcast a stream of anti-Islamic State messages. The Centre for Strategic Counterterrorism Communication is the State Department’s vanguard in this battle. It was formed in 2010 to counter messages from Al Qaeda and affiliated groups. It used to be more covert, posting messages on online forums in Urdu, Punjabi, Somali and Arabic. It has now become more transparent and open in its resistance to terrorism.

Information warfare has been an instrumental tool for political discussion in Pakistan. It has become the first public space where people go to vent and offers visibility of views; unlike any other medium in the past the fact that terrorist organisations and militant groups have vibrant Facebook pages just proves the extent of communicative efficiency social media has. In the past, there has been an attempt to report the Facebook page of Jamia Hafsa for hate speech by a number of individuals from civil society. It started with one, and the campaign snowballed. Though the page is still alive as Facebook does not agree that it violates its community standards.

Numerous hate-filled pages exist, but let’s not shoot the messenger just yet, like the Government tries to do with blanket bans of websites. The Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage on Tuesday presented a set of proposed changes to regulate media and the group endorsed the proposal that mechanisms to track social media for abuse by terrorist groups is the domain of NACTA, and social media must therefore be monitored rigorously. Government censorship has never achieved anything of merit in the fight against hate. The information war is one that the government can’t tackle. The US has been useless its social media strategy against ISIS as it can’t create the numbers to sustain a campaign- followers, retweets, likes etc. However, civil society can if the cause is dear. The Peshawar Massacre has been one of those causes. Social media may not change laws or build concrete bridges, but at the least it has a huge role in morale building and connecting like minded people.