ISLAMABAD - Warning against serious consequences of fake news for world peace and stability, President Dr. Arif Alvi on Tuesday underscored need for public awareness to ensure responsible and cautious use of social media as fake news always had a strong hidden agenda.

Addressing an international conference on “Media and Conflict” here, the president said that apart from positive aspects of social media, it was being used as a modern tool of propaganda and fake news, which required a constant vigilance to prevent conflicts among nations and within societies.

President Alvi said that today’s media around the world had adopted an approach of highlighting negatives to create sensationalism and market their news products.

He noted that fake news could have three faces, including misinformation based on wrong information, disinformation with addition of incorrect content and mal-information with cooked news.

The president said a number of Pakistani media outlets also had a tendency to twist facts while expressing his dissatisfaction for being quoted out-of-context several times in interviews and news.

President Alvi regretted that in today’s world, not morality but the volume of trade had become the new criteria for justice.

He said humans as part of their genetic disposition, had the ability to register good or bad news and quoted a book ‘Factfulness’ by Hans Rosling which focused that vast majority of human beings were wrong about the state of the world.

President Alvi said most wars in the world were imposed on the basis of misinformation to advance specific agendas, terming such countries and stakeholders as ‘pickpockets of modern era’.

“For example, the western media often gives prominence to news items against Islam which has resulted in hatred and insecurity among Muslim community,” he added.

The president recalled that in the guise of justifying attack on Iraq in 90s, a series of fake news about ‘weapons of mass destruction’ was launched which resulted in loss of millions of lives and inflicted huge damage to property.

The domino effect continued in Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria, for which the entire humanity paid a heavy price, he added.

President Alvi urged upon the nation not to fall prey to vicious cycle of misinformation which was also strictly prohibited as per Islamic teachings.

He said fake news had the inherent capacity to severely damage families and societies and quoted a few verses from Quran’s Surahs Nisa and Al-Hujurat that provided guidance on not propagating wrong information.

“Pakistan has proved its peace credentials by waging a successful fight in the war on terrorism and avoiding a conflict with the neighbouring India,” he said, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan soon after assuming power gave the message of peace to India.

The president, however, regretted that the Indian side resorted to belligerence and we shot down their two aircraft.

He said our action of returning the Indian pilot was to pre-empt a possible war.