Shabnam appreciated Imran Khan for expelling Farooq Bandial, who raped her, from the PTI and thanked Pakistanis for their stand — except that it was a fake account.
“Almost all the likes of that account were on tweets related to PTI,” Digital Rights Foundation founder Nighat Dad told SAMAA Digital. “It was childish.”
A picture of Mr Khan and Bandial had gone viral, sparking outrage over the fact that the latter was a convicted rapist. PTI expelled him over the ‘negative feedback’.
It was then that @JharnaBasak tweeted praise for Mr Khan and the tweet went viral within hours.
I appreciate Imran Khan on expelling Farooq Bandyal from his party and very thankful to the people of Pakistan who took stand against rapist.
— Shabnam শবনম (@JharnaBasak) May 31, 2018
Many news organisations believed it was Shabnam’s account.
There are three tweets in total on @JharnaBasak’s timeline. There are 191 tweets that the account has liked. The first one is a March 17 tweet by Dr Aamir Liaquat.
“Most of the accounts that have retweeted her praise for Imran Khan have zero followers,” said Nighat Dad. “Most of them are bot accounts.” She said that this is a form of fake news.
The timing of the tweet couldn’t be better as Pakistan elects its next government into power on July 27. Nighat Dad said such fake news forms are particularly disturbing when elections are due. “You create a fake account and you promote your narrative by influencing public opinion,” she said. “You are damaging the prospects of a fair election.”
Harassment, misogyny and sexism prevail in our political culture, she added. “It’s very disturbing to see these parties diminish a victim’s voice,” she said. “Shabnam perhaps doesn’t even know that this is happening in her name. Imagine the trauma of gang-rape. On top of that, you silence the victim to promote your agenda.”
She said news organisations should develop a clear editorial policy on lifting content from social media. “This is not a one-off tweet. It is part of a series. Social media teams of political parties run fake accounts to change public opinion. Mainstream media should be cautious.”
See for yourself
Type @PakistanDa in your Twitter search bar and hit Enter. Go to People and your search will take you to the fake account. This happens because Twitter allows you to change your username by clicking here.