The Dark Side of social media: Examining the Impact of Fake News on Pakistani Society
Keywords:social media, fake news, Pakistani society, polarization, mistrust, democratic process. 1 Head of Department, Media Sciences, SZABIST, Islamabad Campus 2 Lecturer, Media Sciences, SZABIST, Islamabad
This study examined the impact of social media fake news on Pakistani society through interviews with 100 experts. The study employed a thematic analysis approach to identify patterns and themes in the data. The findings revealed that social media fake news has led to the polarization of society, created mistrust among people, and negatively impacted the democratic processThe theoretical framework for the study was based on the social identity theory, agenda setting theory and cultivation theory, which suggest that people tend to associate with groups that share similar beliefs and values. The research questions were designed to explore the effects of fake news on social polarization and mistrust, as well as the role of social media in promoting fake news. The study hypothesized that social media fake news would have a negative impact on social trust and democratic processes. The findings suggest that social media platforms can be easily manipulated to spread false information and influence public opinion. Moreover, the study found that people tend to believe false information that aligns with their preexisting beliefs, which makes them more susceptible to fake news. The study concludes that social media fake news has a detrimental impact on society and that effective strategies are needed to combat it. The future recommendations include the development of media literacy programs to educate people about the dangers of fake news and the promotion of fact-checking and verification mechanisms on social media platforms.