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Cat-astrophe: Pakistani politician’s event streamed on Facebook with cat filter on

What a bad purr-ess conference.

Pakistani children point at a computer screen showing a screen grab of a press conference by Shaukat Yousafzai and streamed live on Facebook, in Islamabad on June 15, 2019.
Pakistani children point at a computer screen showing a screengrab of a press conference by Shaukat Yousafzai and streamed live on Facebook, in Islamabad on June 15, 2019.
Farooq Naeem/AFP/Getty Images

A lot of things can go wrong for government officials who speak in public. They might face hecklers. They could be embarrassingly stumped by a question. They may even dig themselves into legal trouble.

But the challenge Pakistani politician Shaukat Yousafzai faced last week may be a first: His press conference was live-streamed on Facebook — with the cat filter turned on.

Yes, this is fur real. (Fair warning: There will be many more puns.)

Yousafzai, a regional minister from northwest Pakistan, was speaking to reporters last Friday about local issues. His party, Tehreek-e-Insaf, streamed the event live on Facebook so constituents could follow along.

But viewers saw something they surely didn’t expect: the politician seemingly wearing (digital) pink cat ears, a kitty’s nose, and whiskers.

And just like cats, social media users pounced.

Yousafzai wasn’t the only un-fur-tunate victim, though (I’m not even sorry for that one). The superimposed cat face switched to whoever was talking, including the two officials alongside him.

It’s worth noting, although you surely guessed, that no one meant to have the cat filter on. Doing something as cutesy as that for any politician naturally crosses all (fe)lines of decorum.

The party quickly realized its mistake and finally put the shenanigans on paws.

“Yesterday, whilst covering a press briefing held by KP’s Information Minister Shoukat Yousf Zai, a ‘cat filter’ was witnessed by the viewers which was removed within a few minutes,” the party said in a Twitter statement — clearly needing a break from Facebook. The incident was a “‘human error’ by one of our hard working volunteer [sic]. All necessary actions have been taken to avoid such an incident in the future.”

Yes, this is all hiss-terical, but Yousafzai’s party may have just come up with the purr-fect solution to better attract young people to politics: use filters when streaming events live on Facebook. Just imagine how much more paw-some the Democratic presidential debates next week could be, for example.

If Pakistan was trying to keep this secret of civic engagement secret, well, the cat’s out of the bag now.

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