Can government get rid of fake news and regulating social media?

By Drum Digital
08 March 2017

Minister of State Security, David Mahlobo says their tired of fake news and want to police social media.

After Minister of State Security David Mahlobo’s announced that government wants to regulate social media, South Africans have expressed their disapproval with many wondering how it can be done.

A picture of the Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, wiping himself after what is said to have been a moment of passion with a naked female student did the rounds last year on social media.

There are also websites that spread satirical news poking fun at government officials, and these are the kind of things Mahlobo wants to get rid of.

blade fake news

William Bird, Director at Media Monitoring Africa which advocates for democracy through the media, says government needs a better strategy to combat fake news.

“They need to learn how to communicate with South Africans,” he says.

“They lie, they don’t answer questions and they don’t want to be held accountable for their actions, now they are trying to escape the media.”

Bird reveals that social media is already regulated with WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook developers paying taxes in their own countries.

Also, users agree to terms and conditions that hold them liable when posting inappropriate content.

“State Security has a role in monitoring people who distribute child porn, incite hate speech or incite terrorism online,” he says. “Those people need to be found and prosecuted and feel the full might of the law.”

In China, social media has been regulated by government, and Bird says it is a form of dictatorship.

“It is dangerous for the Department of State Security to regulate social media because it should not be their role in the first place,” he says. “This could be a great infringement on freedom of speech and South Africa’s democracy.”  

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