The government has ramped up its capacity to monitor and respond to misinformation and disinformation (fake news) during this period of Covid-19 national pandemic and beyond.
“We are stepping up our campaign against digital misinformation, particularly in relation to Covid-19 and related actions such as the national lockdown,” said Acting Minister of Communications, Jackson Mthembu.
“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,” Mthembu added.
This solution is a unique collaboration between the Department, the Government Communication and Information System, Media Monitoring Africa and the COVIDComms volunteer communication network.
“It forms part of the work of a special Ministerial Task Team established by the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, which also includes representatives from ICASA, Film and Publications Board, ZADna, mobile phone companies and other key players in the ICT sector, including platform owners,” the Ministry confirmed.
How the platform works
The Ministry said once fake news items or social media posts have been identified, platform owners are notified to bring down the posts.
“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 Ministry said.
How to report fake news
The following facilities have been set up for people to send their complaints:
Complaints can be channeled through the Real411 website.
Alternatively, complaints can be posted through the Whatsapp line 067 966 4015.