In the post-truth world of fake news and ‘alternative facts’, the importance of unbiased and fact-checked reporting has become even more important that ever. Unfortunately, the unverified and sensationalized versions of trivial facts that were considered hallmarks of Facebook posts and WhatsApp forwards has been brought in the mainstream media by those who have a vested interest in misinformation and disinformation. The issue of fake news and sensational distortion of facts that has always been part of media discussion came to be highlighted in the upper most echelons of judiciary after exaggerated claims were made by certain media persons regarding the primary accused in Zainab murder case. These apparently investigative claims were not verified by concerned authorities and instead of apologizing for misrepresentation and false reporting, new conspiracy theories were hatched and spread in order to further divert the public attention from primary issue of having a serious discourse about protecting young children from abusive elements and establishing lawful writ towards gaining rating through fabricated and over-exaggerated claims.
War of information has become a real threat to social order not only in Pakistan but internationally too with US president being the flag bearer of this agenda by trouncing reputed mainstream media sources and promoting fringe elements of society based on personal preferences. This ‘war of information’ could be seen playing in Brexit, Indian Elections and in various national issues too through unverified claims being purported as solid news items and no sign of remorse even if proven wrong. It is understandable the regulating the flow of information on internet and especially social media is nearly impossible and controlling it on the waves is an even more dangerous double edge sword but if media is to retain its freedom and public’s trust in its authenticity, then self-regulation will have to be exercised at all levels of dissemination chain in media.