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Pakistan toughened laws to stop the spread of fake news that would regulate posts on social media platforms, a move many critics described as an attempt to crack down on journalists and opponents of the government, Bloomberg reported.

Earlier this week, President Arif Alvi approved an ordinance that would amend Pakistan’s Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act which allows individuals to file a complaint against a social media post.

The changes would increase prison terms for violations from three to five years and make the spread of fake news online exempt from bail.

Officials said the measure follows rumors on social media about a rift between Prime Minister Imran Khan and the first lady, VOA reported.

Journalists and media advocates criticized the ordinance, saying that it is “unwarranted and deplorable and undermines democratic, political and media freedoms.” They vowed to challenge the measures in court and hit the streets in demonstrations.

The decision also comes days ahead of a planned 10-day demonstration by Pakistan’s second-largest opposition party aimed at dislodging Khan from power.

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