In the past, broadcasters had complete control over the content broadcast or aired, avoiding inappropriate or illegal programming. However, with the rise of the internet, this control has shifted to internet users, who can now easily upload and share their content online with just a few clicks. Consequently, the uploaded content becomes instantly accessible to millions of users around the world.
The advent of this new era has created formidable challenges, particularly with regard to the uploading and sharing of violent, harmful and indecent content. Such content has the potential to significantly impact society as a whole without undergoing vital scrutiny by the regulators involved.
Timely identification and removal of illegal content is crucial to minimize its impact. Although social media companies use artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, these AI systems are still in the learning phase and need time to mature. Consequently, companies currently rely on a complaint-based mechanism, where the public reports illegal content and company-side content moderators analyze the reported content.
Effective results cannot be achieved through the existing mechanism for registering complaints without the support of the public. Raising public awareness of the complaint registration mechanism of social media platforms and the mechanism of PTA will make it easier to file complaints about illegal content online. PTA has developed a user-friendly Complaint Management System (CMS) that can be accessed at (https://complaint.pta.gov.pk/RegisterComplaint.aspx), as well as the mobile app that can be downloaded from the Playstore and Appstore. Every oneThe hurt person can submit the complaint to the PTA by selecting the relevant category, such as anti-state, sectarian content, etc. Incomplete or incorrect information may lead to rejection of the complaint or delay in the processing of the complaint. For public guidance, a video”Report illegal online contentwas uploaded on PTA’s official YouTube channel (@ptaofficialpk).
Social media companies strive to provide a safe platform for users through self-regulation, promulgating community guidelines and standards. It is essential for the public to become familiar with these platforms’ community standards/guidelines. These guidelines provide a framework of rules aimed at creating a safe environment for users to communicate and share information. They also contain advice on illegal and prohibited actions that may lead to the permanent suspension of user accounts.
Timely reporting of illegal content that goes against community guidelines/standards is crucial for its early removal and permanent banning of repeat offenders. SM platforms actively encourage users to approach them directly to find missing or additional information necessary for timely resolution of issues.
PTA has provided a list of URLs for major SM platforms where complaints can be made. This list can be accessed at (https://www.pta.gov.pk/assets/media/sm_platforms_09032020.pdf). Moreover, WhatsApp, known for its end-to-end encryption, encourages its users to report illegal content within the app itself. Users can do this by long-pressing on the illegitimate message and selecting the ‘report’ option.
PTA will ensure safe, responsible and secure use of cyberspace by being aware of illegal content online and reporting it to SM platforms.
This article is written in collaboration with Mr. Muhammad Farooq, Director WAD, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
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