WAR, LIES & HASHTAGS

AL JAZEERA NETWORK - FINAL SCRIPT

 

 Strand Title:  Witness

Programme Number & Title:  PG017039 - War, Lies & Hashtags

Date of Transmission:  TBC

Script Version:  1

Transmission date (known or approx):  TBC

Total Programme Duration (mins:secs): 25:05

Viewing link for script below: https://vimeo.com/376223104 (Password: WitnessPrivate)

 

Independent/Commission Producer: Hasham Cheema

Independent/Commission Producer Contact Details: +97466567273, cheemah@aljazeera.net

Commission/Independent Production Company and Address: AJMN Doha, Qatar.

Al Jazeera Commissioning Executive: Fiona Lawson-Baker

Al Jazeera Commissioning Executive Contact Details: lawson.fb@aljazeera.net

Al Jazeera producer/program editor: John Otimi

Al Jazeera producer/program editor telephone number:

AL Jazeera bureau:  Doha

 

 

 

Instructions:  

Please use colour-coding when listing contributors and sourced footage. This will enable those elements to be more easily compared and added to the PasC form. 

Narration – in CAPS

Dialogue – in italics

Correspondent to Camera, PTC – in plain text   

Names and references as they appear in this transcript:  

 

Time Code

(10:00:00:00)

Description of Scene

Audio

00:00:00:00

Drone shot lowering on Farhan’s house. 

 

00:00:00:08

Iram

 

Has it started trending?

 

00:10

Farhan’s twitter name strap drops, while Iram speaks to him.

Iram: My trends panel is a bit heavy so it’s not showing up.

00:18

Iram’s twitter name strap drops

 

00:25

Iram’s twitter name strap

Farhan: No, it’s not there yet.

00:27

Farhan looking towards Iram

Iram: Please start retweeting then. It’s my favorite topic.

00:32

Iram on her phone, sitting.

Farhan: It will start trending when I start retweeting.

00:26

Iram through the door mesh

Farhan: Iram, I’m going to the office now. 

00:30

Farhan walking down the stairs

Iram: Well, there’s fighter jets in the air. 

00:45

Graphic sequence. 00

 

00:46

Hashtags appear on cars. 

      #FreeKashmir

      AirStrike

      IndianArmy

      PakistanArmy

      Modi

      Balakot

      IndiaAttacks

 

00:53

Drone shot over Islamabad.

TEXT ON SCREEN

Since the partition of 1947, wars between India and Pakistan  have been largely conventional.

 

With social media weaponised, the rules of engagement are beginning to change.

01:06

TITLE

War, Lies & Hashtags. A film by Hasham Cheema.  

01:23

Farhan crossing the road

I’m a qualified doctor but right now I’m working as a social media activist in Pakistan.

01:32

TEXT ON SCREEN. 

Visual: screens inside social media cell inside.

Farhan works occasionally at a social media cell affiliated with Pakistan’s ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

 

01:40

Farhan walks in and greets everyone. 

 

01:44

Cell worker on his laptop as office manager engages Farhan in conversation

Hasan: So what are the latest trends, Farhan?

 

Conversation between Farhan and Hasan

Farhan: Nawaz Sharif’s (former PM) bail got rejected today. That’s all over social media. The opposition party (PML-N) is trending #RoarLikeALion. Our PTI Hashtag is #PunishNawazUnderArticle6 (treason).

Hasan: What are the analytics saying?

Farhan: According to our analytics, the opposition hashtag has 7000 tweets and their tweet impressions are 800,000. Our hashtag has 14,000 tweets and our impressions are touching 1.4 million.

Hasan: Oh, very good.

Farhan: So we’re on number 1 right now, but let’s see what happens next.

02:28

Farhan strolling in the office. VO

Farhan: A lot of people think I am paid by the government for my social media activism, but I am not. 

02:36

Farhan getting the Modi graphic made.

Declares Modi, M.O.D.I, as the most stupid S.T.U.P.I.D prime minister P r I m e s t er in the world. This could go viral, you never know.

02:58

Farhan smiling at the graphic. VO

Farhan:  A lot of people in Pakistan call me a troll. I used to be a troll, I have no shame in accepting that. 

03:07

Drone spiralling out of house from above. VO

Farhan: It all started with a fake account.

 

 

Farhan: Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan is a Pakistani nuclear scientist. I made an account under his name. The purpose was to gain more followers, because nobody would look at my account otherwise. 

03:44

Dr AQ Khan’s tweet

Tweet: Pakistan can destroy 5 Indian cities within minutes.

03:36

VO

Farhan: The tweets started getting a big response. Indian and Pakistani news outlets would often make news reports out of them. 

03:56

 

 

Farhan: Eventually, the account was reported and suspended. It had around 29-30 thousand followers. Twitter was lenient back then so I got my account back. 

04:21

 

Farhan: I run a team called Team Imran Khan. Our members are spread out across Pakistan. All these members launch hashtag campaigns on Twitter. 

04:51

Farhan walking down the street with a mattress in his hand. 

 

04:59

Farhan walking up the stairs with mattress. VO

Farhan: I bought a mattress today to reduce the echo in this room. Hello, Hello.. Mic testing.

05:08

Farhan gets up to go to the kitchen

At $15, it was a bit expensive but it’s second-hand. 

05:15

Farhan making tea. VO

Farhan: My parents are pressuring me to start practicing medicine. But I feel the work I’m doing on social media is far more important than being a doctor. 

05:30

Farhan sitting on the stairs on his terrace

Guys, grab your keyboards and start trending #WhyIsIndianMediaStupid?

05:54

Farhan on stairs

Farhan: It’s now trending at number 5. 

06:00

Opening up camera

But you can’t make money off Twitter no matter how many campaigns you run. On YouTube you can generate revenue through ads. 

06:13

 

Virk Show Title sequence

 

06:17

Farhan speaking to his audience

Welcome friends, you are watching your favourite show The Virk Show. In today’s show we will tell you everything that the media hides from you. 

06:28

Farhan sitting on his bed, editing. VO

For our campaigns to work on social media we have to be at war with mainstream media. We have to constantly tell people that mainstream media is lying to you. That’s how we can better perpetuate our narrative on social media. 

06:51

Farhan sitting on bed, editing. VO

Globally, I learn a lot from Alex Jones and Steve Bannon. We define ourselves as Pakistani alt-right but this has no connection with the US alt-right.

07:05

Farhan showing his phone

Look at this. I’m getting abused by Indians... “Your father this, your mother that.” The hate never stops but I say go for it. It doesn’t make a difference. 

07:30

Night time shot of their house from the outside.

 

07:31

Iram sit down interview

On our wedding, Farhan gifted me an account with 200,000 followers. That got suspended within a month. 

07:42

Farhan and Iram sitting together. VO

My new account has 3,000 followers and it hasn’t been suspended yet. 

07:56

Iram shows her phone to Farhan and says.

Modi is winning. 

07:57

Farhan

You know who called me last night? Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on *********. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on *******. They were asking me to do something about the poll. So I arranged around 10,000 votes. 

 

Iram

What do you mean you ‘arranged’ votes?

 

Farhan

There are foreign companies you can outsource to. I thought I should contribute my share.

 

Iram

Ok, let’s start trending...  

08:34

Iram laughing in sit down interview. Sound of news report from her phone plays. 

“*** News is giving you exclusive news on Pakistan’s conspiracy to mix poison in Indian soldiers’ food.”

08:44

Iram

This was just a news in which I tagged four (indian) news channels. 

08:55

Iram looking into the camera

If you repeat a lie over and over again, people start believing it to be the truth. 

09:00

Iram walking through the park to meet Team Green

On social media, I run a group of around 100-150 volunteers. We call ourselves Team Green and we run hashtag campaigns on Twitter.

09:15

Iram

Our ‘poison’ lie went viral.

 

Saad:

Which one?

 

Iram

The poison one. 

 

 Saad

My account got suspended because of that. 

 

Iram

Yes, they did suspend your account. 

09:27

TG member

The poison tweet shows us that their media...

 

Iram

Not just their media, even their agencies are all mad, psycho.

09:38

TG member

It just shows that we can control their media. 

 

Iram

Yes, we can. That’s why I’m saying, let’s start our campaign on Modi. 

 

Iram

Gather all the statements you can find against Modi. We have to get into their trends panel and launch our own trends. Like we did last time, when our trends on Modi started running in India. We got a lot of abuse for it. Let’s repeat that. We have to penetrate their trends panel. Think of some hashtags so the top tweets in India are ours. 

10:11

Iram and TG walking up from table. VO

Iram: We are not Army trolls but when someone says we are, it makes us proud.

10:33

Farhan wakes up and washes his face. While brushing his hair, asks.

Farhan: Hey Google, tell me the news?

10:36

Shots of telecom towers.

Voice of Al Jazeera news report:

Pakistan’s military says Indian air force planes have crossed into Pakistan administered Kashmir and released an unspecified payload. Tensions between the two countries has been escalating.

10:51

Drone shot panning up Farhan’s house.

Farhan addressing Team IK on his phone.

Today, India has done something very cowardly as you know. This attack was not carried out in the Pakistani territory of Balakot, KP. 

11:02

Farhan recording video

They attacked a small village around 2-3 miles into the border. 

11:10

 

They tried to attack our tree plantations and we will give them a befitting response. Let’s start trending #IndiaAgainstTreePlantation at 11am today. 

11:26

Farhan tweets. GRAPHIC

“Guys, grab your keyboards and start trending #IndiaAgainstTreePlantation. 

11:36

Drone rising above Farhan’s colony as graphics depict the above hashtag starts trending. 

 

11:46

Farhan on his bed

I was just being sarcastic. The media saw my tweets and started reporting on it. It proves my point that our media cannot differentiate between sarcasm and truth.

12:04

Drone shot showing cars on a highway. Graphics depict #Sialkot taking over #IndiaAgainstTreePlantation

 

12:15

Farhan in car enroute to Sialkot. VO

Farhan: I’m on my way to Sialkot, which is close to the Pakistan India border. Escalations on the border are quite normal there. 

12:26

Sialkot Rumour graphics. 

TWEET: The war is on. Tanks being pushed forward in #Sialkot. 

TWEET: Everyone is awake due to heavy firing in #Sialkot. 

TWEET: #Sialkot sector has turned into a heavy battlefield. 

12:43

Location tag.

SIALKOT

PAKISTAN_INDIA BORDER

12:46

Man on the roof. Farhan recording witness testimonies. 

Farhan: Have you heard any firing?

Man: No, nothing yet. 

 

Farhan asking questions

Farhan: Have you heard any firing?

Man: No, sir. 

12:54

Farhan asking questions

 

Farhan: Is it totally peaceful?

Man: Yes.

Farhan: Ok, great.

12:56

Farhan walking up the stairs

Is the border that way? 

13:04

Farhan climbs on the roof

 

13:18

Farhan starts recording a video

Farhan: OK friends. We’re in Virk, a village right by the border. Across those trees in the distance is India. #Sialkot is trending right now in Pakistan and India. People are saying there is a war going on. 

13:36

Farhan recording video

Bust as you can see, there are no signs of war. It’s all calm and peaceful here. 

13:42

Location strap: FARHAN’S PARENT’S HOME ,SIALKOT

 

13:49

Farhan’s father. 

He gets a lot of abuse on Twitter. 

 

Farhan

Dad’s on Twitter. 

13:57

Farhan’s mother

Specially for me, there is a lot of abuse. Sometimes I think he should quit this kind of work and do something else. 

 

Farhan’s Father

His obsession with social media started during the fourth year of his medical degree. Now he has gone too far on the internet. He’s no longer capable of waking up in the morning and going to work. 

 

Farhan

Just like the big social media stars from America and India, who earn millions and billions through social media, I think I will be able to make a living out of it as well. 

14:42

Father to Farhan

There’s a lot happening on social media today.

 

Farhan

Yes, but I think we should have shot down a few jets. 

 

Father

Did they have a target?

14:54

Farhan

No, they didn’t have a target. Was it a village where they attacked? 

14:57

Farhan

There are two places called Balakot. 

15:01

Farhan

The one where they attacked is a village next to the border most of which lies in Indian territory. 

15:21

Farhan tweets

TWEET: Listen everyone! India attacked a village called Bala kot. Most of it lies in Indian territory. Only a small part is in Pakistan. 

 

Replies

TWEET REPLY: BBC reports are saying otherwise. 

TWEET REPLY: You are wrong Farhan Virk. They flew over and dropped payload inside Pakistan. 

TWEET REPLY: Why are you spreading this propaganda? Just because we couldn’t defend ourselves? 

15:42

Farhan sits on his couch. VO

Farhan: My ideology is national interest. I feel that national interests are more important than anything else. To protect national interest, even if you say something that’s not true but it influences the people in a positive way, I don’t consider that propaganda. 

16:02

Sialkot night street.

 

16:09

 

Sialkot wide GVs. Voice of Al Jazeera news.

Pakistan says it has shot down two Indian fighter jets while they were in Pakistani air space. They’ve arrested one Indian pilot, while the other is apparently in hospital receiving treatment but India says only one of its aircraft crashed and that was because of technical failure.”

16:34

Farhan flying his kite

Social media literally on fire right now. Pakistan has 3 hashtags running on the worldwide trends panel. #PakistanZindabad, #LongLivePakistanAirForce and #PakistanStrikesBack.

16:46

Farhan flying Kite. 

So the hashtag we (Team IK) contributed was #PakistanStrikesBack. That’s trending on number 2 worldwide!

16:55

Pakistan flag

Today because Pakistan has downed 2 aircrafts I’m going to show the Indians a very historic monument in Sialkot.

17:03

Farhan at the site of the captured Indian tank

This is the Indian tank AMX-13 which was captured in the 1965 indo-pak war. Your brother is present right here. Indians, before going in for an adventure in Sialkot, remind yourself of this tank. Your tanks will be used by our children as toys. All you children! Pakistan? “Long live.”

17:25

Location strap:

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN

 

17:53

Iram getting out of the car.

Iram: I forgot to bring the umbrella.

18:06 

Farhan to Iram in Chinese restaurant.

Farhan: So we’ve made $24 so far. 

Iram: Congratulations.

Farhan: Since last night, I’ve made $3. 

Iram: Very good. Congratulations on your success. What do you plan on buying with this? Gol Gappas? (Snack)

 

Farhan

This hard work. Day in day out, I make videos, edit them, think of the next one.

Iram: For Gol Gappas. 

 

Farhan

This is my hard-earned money. I’ve worked really hard for it. Hard work is the key to success. 

18:55

Iram: 

Why were you making so many videos in Sialkot?

 

Farhan 

Well, I noticed a lot of rumours going around on the internet. A lot of people including our friends were saying there is an all out war in Siaokot. Apparently, Pakistan captured 33 Indian checkposts. The war in Sialkot is now over. Now they’re spreading rumours about Kashmir. 

19:36

Iram, as she leaves the restaurant with Farhan.

It says pull.

19:56

Pro-army protest. Farhan’s VO

This is the age of social media warfare. Nowadays, the Army needs to play a big role in social media. 

20:09

Farhan recording a video at the protest

The Provincial Youth assembly has organised a rally in favour of Pakistan Army. I’m doing live coverage of the rally and asking people to come and join us here today. 

20:23

Hamza greets DC Islamabad. DC Name strap:

HAMZA SHAFQAAT

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER ISLAMABAD

 

20:27

Farhan talks to Hamza

Farhan: So how is it going these days?

Hamza: The Prime Minister has given us a target. It’s good you’re here because you have to do this campaign with us. We have to grow one million trees in Islamabad. We want the youth and the schools to be involved. 

Farhan: OK, no problem. 

20:42

DC to farhan, and walking away

Hamza: No please do a campaign on Twitter asking people to help us reach this target. 

Farhan: OK, no problem. 

Hamza: Ok, let’s go ahead and meet other people. 

20:54

Farhan looking dejected at the protest. VO

Farhan: Whenever the party leadership has a problem, they come to me to get it solved. 

21:00

NAME STRAP: 

Alamgir Khan

Government Minister

 

21:06

Farhan walks behind the minister

Farhan: But as soon as their problems are solved, they forget about me. 

21:22

Farhan picks up bill, sits in his room having a smoke.

Oh sh**t. I asked my friend Aftab to pay my bill for me. I don’t want it to go over the due date. So far, I’ve from YouTube I’ve made $18 in two months.

21:52

Shots of Farhan’s room

 

21:59

GV of Bari Imam Shrine

 

22:04

Farhan walking towards the shrine. VO

Farhan: Whenever I’m facing problems and feeling depressed regarding social media, I come here.

22:13

Location strap.

SHRINE OF BARI IMAM

ISLAMABAD

 

22:15

Farhan sitting by a grave in the shrine.

Farhan: Bari Imam is a 15-century saint buried in Islamabad. He came to me in my dream and asked me to work on social media.

 

22:42

Farhan praying 

Now I’m thinking this has to end. 

23:05

Drone shot lowering into Iram’s house. 

TEXT ON SCREEN

Six months later... 

23:13

Iram wearing makeup.

 

23:19

Iram walking out of her house

TEXT ON SCREEN

Twitter suspended Iram’s account after a campaign about Kashmir. Team Green’s accounts were also suspended.

 

23:34

In Iram’s studio

Welcome back viewers. 

23:40

Iram’s studio. VO

I’ve just started my media career. In mainstream media, you have access to a wider variety of audience. Now, I can reach out to middle-aged people.

23:58

Iram in studio. VO

Even if I don’t say much, I’m still heard by lots of people.

24:04

Iram in Studio. VO

To be on mainstream media gives me a sense of power and popularity. I think I will be a very successful anchor. I will be all over the world. 

24:21

Islamabad drone shot. Farhan sitting and thinking about life.

 

TEXT ON SCREEN

The PTI social media cell where Farhan occasionally worked, distanced itself from Farhan because of one of his Twitter campaigns. 

 

PTI’s official social media team had already disowned Farhan before the party took office.

24:37

Farhan sitting outside the parliament building.

Iram VO: Basically, I tell Farhan that social media is something that will come and go. Tomorrow, it will be replaced by something else. What we have to do is focus on our professions. He needs to pursue his medical career. 

25:01

Farhan walking down the road.VO

Farhan: Social media is my passion. I can’t leave it behind. But I may have to distance myself from the party if things don’t improve. I would have to start my medical career, save some money and run in the elections myself.

 

 Black screen. Text on screen.

 In December 2019, Farhan’s Twitter account was permanently suspended due to multiple violations of Twitter’s policies.

 

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