- POSTED: 02 Oct 2013 12:07
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From politicians being assassinated, to media trials in the court of public opinion for its athletes -- there is a lot of hate speech in Pakistani society emanating from its much-heralded social media. But thanks to a new website, online hate speech can be reported on by witnesses.
LAHORE: Jokes or casual comments rooted in racism, homophobia and misogyny that can all be classified as hate speech have been ignored for years -- till 2011, when a social media campaign gained such strength that it acted as judge, jury and executioner against former governor of the Punjab province Salman Taseer, who was assassinated for not supporting the country's blasphemy laws.
Hate speech had become nothing less than a lethal weapon.
Mobeen Chughtai, a social and media analyst, said: "I don't really see a very good role played by the conventional or by the social media in Salman Taseer's unfortunate assassination.
"What you must understand is whatever comes on the media has a certain preset bias behind it but as far as the social media is concerned, its free for all. Anybody can bring in any kind of opinion."
But that may not be the case for very much longe as online hate speech in Pakistan now has "witnesses" -- a new website is on a mission to name and shame those who post hateful messages online.
Nafrat Aggregator, which means "hate aggregator", has dedicated sections for rape jokes, religious intolerance, misogyny, bullying and homophobia. Users are invited to report examples by providing screenshots of the abuse.
Sabeen Mahmud, the developer of the Nafrat Aggregator, said: "We want to make a dent. If the Nafrat Aggregator's existence makes even a few people think twice about what they post -- at the very least, they stop using words like 'faggot' and stop making casual rape jokes -- it will have served a purpose."
Not everyone however is convinced that the site can achieve its intended goal in Pakistan.
Mr Chughtai said: "If they want to create a kind of policing or self-policing system within the social media, then that's a brilliant idea. But if the target is to create some kind of improvement via this in the social media or Pakistan culture in general, I don't really see that succeeding."
From reporting the abuse of child education activist Malala to shaming people making gay cricket jokes -- the website is however, gaining momentum.
Experts said that the success of a website like Nafrat Aggregator might be somewhat limited when compared to its potential adoption in a developed country. Nonetheless, this website has surely become a trendsetter that will inspire many others to design such websites, and hopefully make Pakistan's social media world a less hateful place for human interaction.