Facebook parent Meta and the government-owned working group agreed to explore idea of setting up a community lab in Pakistan by collaborating with academia, incubation centers, startups, and telecom service providers, a statement said on Saturday.

The lab would offer a platform to develop and test innovative technology solutions to help grow the connectivity ecosystem in the country, stated National Social Media Coordination Working Group (NSMCWG) in its first meeting with Meta representatives.

PM Imran Khan constituted NSMCWG to streamline engagement with digital platforms and work on relevant policies related to social media. The working group is also focused on encouraging digital platforms to invest in the country.

Sarim Aziz, head of Public Policy, South Asia, Meta, said the creation of the working group had made it easier for digital platforms to engage with government stakeholders, share insights, and concerns and respond to needs on the ground.

Meta representatives briefed the meeting on their initiatives that contribute to digital literacy, inclusion, and enablement.

“We share Pakistan’s vision of building a sustainable digital economy in the country through thoughtful investments in connectivity infrastructure and digital upskilling programs to unlock economic growth at scale,” he said.

“This is a first of many discussions and we are committed to working with the government to ensure that online spaces remain safe, free, and accessible to everyone in Pakistan,” he added.

They also discussed prospective collaborative efforts in the areas of connectivity, tools, and systems for removing harmful content, compliance with local laws, rules and regulatory framework, and ways to support local content creators.

During the meeting, NSMCWG also conveyed its concerns regarding effective and timely moderation of harmful and illegal content across the Meta platforms.

Both sides showed their willingness for continued engagement to improve mechanics and cooperation on content moderation and compliance with local laws. Members of the working group appreciated future plans of Meta for increased presence on Pakistan’s digital map.

NSMCWG termed the meeting with Meta as successfully, saying that the working group would continue to advocate for digital investments that would power sustainable economic development in the long term.

“We are encouraged that Meta is not only invested in local connectivity efforts, it is also exploring different ways for Pakistani businesses and creators to generate meaningful, reliable revenue on their platforms and is committed to opening up new opportunities in the future.”

The working group said the meeting set ground for multiple engagements that were in the offing between the government and Meta in line with their commitment to enhance digital connectivity and inclusion across the country.

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