Covid-19: Govt establishes 'hi-tech' process to tackle fake news

2020-04-15 17:10
(Getty Images/Gallo Images)

(Getty Images/Gallo Images)

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Those behind the spreading of fake news and misinformation - beware.

A high-tech monitoring and evaluation process has been established to take down fake news items on a number of platforms and submit cases to the police for investigation and prosecution, the communications and digital technologies ministry warned on Wednesday.

"We are stepping up our campaign against digital misinformation, particularly in relation to Covid-19 and related actions such as the national lockdown," acting Communications Minister Jackson Mthembu said.

The spreading of fake news has been a problem since the coronavirus pandemic hit South Africa, and News24 has found itself on several occasions having false reports mocked up to look like legitimate news. 

"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... media service providers and internet service providers... will then have the responsibility to remove fake news from their platforms with immediate effect."

Arrests

"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."

According to the ministry, the process is a collaboration between the department, Government Communication and Information System, Media Monitoring Africa and CovidComms, a network of communications volunteers.

This operation is in association with various ICT-sector government departments, Mthembu said.

READ | Celebrity Somizi Mhlongo hands himself over to police after lockdown comment

Regulations published shortly after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster criminalised the intentional distribution of fake news about the coronavirus, those infected with Covid-19 or the government's efforts to address the virus.

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

- Compiled by Tammy Petersen


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Read more on:    coronavirus  |  fake news
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