The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has hired 1,360 social media influencers to ‘counter fake news and propaganda’ against the government.
The social media influencers will reportedly be hired against a salary of Rs 25,000 per month, and are required to have a minimum of 1000 followers on at least one social media platform.
The influencers will, in addition to countering fake news, create awareness at a grassroots level about the various policies being implemented by the PTI government in the province. A total amount of Rs 736 million has been allocated for this project, with each influencer getting paid a monthly salary of Rs 25,000.
Initially, all influencers will be recruited as interns for one year; however, the contract is extendable, with the possibility to stay on for longer.
The provincial government has completed the hiring process of the SMIs in Peshawar, Mardan, Charsadda, Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Dir Upper, Dir Lower, Abbottabad, Battagram, Buner, Chitral Lower, Hangu, Haripur, Karak, Kohat, Kohistan Upper, Lakki Marwat, Malakand, Mansehra, Nowshera, Shangla, Swabi, Swat, Tank, Tor Ghar, Kohistan Lower, Bajaur, Khar, Khyber, Kurram, Mohmand, North Waziristan, Orakzai, South Waziristan, FR Bannu, FR Dera Ismail Khan, FR Kohat, FR Lakki Marwat, FR Peshawar, FR Tank, Kolai Pallas, and Chitral Upper.
Opposition parties have termed the hiring of social media influencers by the KP government an attempt to spread chaos in politics. Initially, the proposed budget for the project was Rs 870 million, but this was later reduced to Rs 736 million.
According to the KP government website, the role of the interns will be to apprise the government of public grievances and aspirations, and to gather public opinion on proposed government initiatives. The influencers will also be required to track human rights violations that emerge on social media, as well as keeping records of social media analytics of different government projects.