How SA is clamping down on fake news circulating online

The government has announced new measures to crack down on the dissemination of false information on social media platforms.
The government has announced new measures to crack down on the dissemination of false information on social media platforms.
Image: CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP

As the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in SA continues to rise, unreliable and false information is spreading on social media to such an extent that the government has announced new measures to crack down on it.

A “hi-tech monitoring and evaluation process” has been put in place to limit misinformation about the virus and government responses to the outbreak.

SA has 2,506 confirmed cases, 410 recoveries and 34 deaths.

“We are stepping up our campaign against digital misinformation, particularly in relation to Covid-19 and related actions such as the national lockdown,” said minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu.

According to Mthembu, the “hi-tech” monitor, which will help police with investigating cases and prosecution, was the result of a collaboration between the communications department, the Government Communication and Information System, Media Monitoring Africa and the CovidComms volunteer communication network.

“Once fake news items or social media posts have been identified, platform owners are notified to bring down the posts, explained Mthembu.

“Electronic communications services licensees, including over-the-top media service providers and internet service providers that are in the service of providing linear and non-linear services, will then have the responsibility to remove fake news from their platforms with immediate effect.”

The new measures form part of the work of a special ministerial task team established by the department of communications and digital technologies, representatives from the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa), the Film and Publications Board, ZADna, cellphone companies and other key players in the ICT sector, including platform owners.

“We also need to remind South Africans that spreading fake news or disinformation about Covid-19 is a punishable offence.

“Arrests have already been made and they will continue if people persist in spreading fake news.”

To lodge a fake-news complaint, visit www.real411.org or send a WhatsApp message to 067 966 4015.


In the public interest, none of our coronavirus news is behind our paywall and is available free for all to read. To support our mission of delivering award-winning, independent local news, subscribe from as little as R45 per month by clicking here.


Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

X