Monday Jun 04 2018

LHC issues notices to PTA chairman, ECP over Facebook’s influence on general election

Photo: AFP

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday issued notices to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) chairman and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) over a petition regarding Facebook’s influence on the upcoming general election.

LHC's Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh issued the notices to the respondents during the hearing of a petition regarding Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s statement in April vowing to protect the integrity of upcoming general election in Pakistan.

The petitioner, Shahid Jamal, requested the court to direct the interim federal government, ECP and PTA to press Zuckerberg to take action against fake accounts created on the social media giant before the general election scheduled for July 25.

“The interim federal government, ECP and PTA should also be directed to regulate social media to ensure the democratic process is not harmed in the upcoming general election,” the petitioner upheld. 

In April, while testifying before a joint hearing of the US Senate’s Commerce and Judiciary committees on a range of issues from Facebook’s handling of alleged Russian attempts at election interference to consumer privacy and hate speech, Zuckerberg had said, "There are important elections in India, in Brazil, in Mexico, in Pakistan, and in Hungary. And we want to make sure we do everything we can to protect the integrity of those elections."

The 33-year-old internet mogul further informed congress that the company has new artificial intelligence tools to identify fake accounts, and plans to hire 20,000 people to work on security and content review by the end of this year.

The Facebook CEO had also said political ads on the social media website will be required to specify the person or entity paying for the message, as part of the bid to curb outside election interference. 

Zuckerberg's comments had come following severe backlash after it was revealed that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which worked for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, gained access to the personal data of 87 million Facebook users.