Anatomy of a disinformation campaign | The manipulation game on Twitter

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
  • 12 African countries feature on the Oxford Internet Institute’s of 77 countries wher government or political party actors used disinformation on social media.
  • Viral hashtags on Twitter which tap into existing prejudices – against a political party, organisation or a group of people – can be exploited it for the disinformer’s agenda.
  • Ignoring a piece of disinformation sometimes is the best strategy.

In recent years, the UK’s Oxford Internet Institute has tracked the manipulation of public opinion online.

Since 2018, South Africa has featured on a growing list of countries where social media is used to spread disinformation and computational propaganda. Twitter is a prominent platform for social media manipulation in South Africa, the institute found

In this three-part series, fact-checking organisation Africa Check and the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) take a closer look at disinformation on Twitter in South Africa.

Part one focuses on disinformation actors, their behaviour and content. In part two, the hashtag is examined and just how much damage it can cause?  Part three gives advice on how to deal with disinformation on social media. 


Anatomy of a disinformation campaign | The who, what and why of deliberate falsehoods on Twitter (Part 1)

The recently released 2020 edition of the Oxford Internet Institute’s Global Inventory of Organised Social Media Manipulation identified 77 countries where government or political party actors used disinformation on social media to manipulate public opinion. South Africa is among them, writes Liesl Pretorius.

Anatomy of a disinformation campaign | Any harm in a hashtag? Spotting disinformation in the wild (Part 2)

Unlike the spreaders of misinformation, who don’t mean harm, disinformation actors knowingly cause damage to people, social groups, organisations and even countries. In the second of a three-part series examining falsehoods on Twitter, Jean le Roux sorts misinformation from disinformation in three popular hashtags.

Anatomy of a disinformation campaign | How to avoid traps on Twitter (Part 3)

Bell Pottinger is dead, but disinformation that preys on divisions in South Africa remains. Some say social media users should ignore disinformation – the deliberate spread of false information to cause harm – because any engagement helps malicious actors spread their messages. But is doing nothing really the only option, particularly when disengagement is what some of these campaigns hope to achieve? Liesl Pretorius looked for answers.


We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When a Covid-19 vaccine for under 16's becomes available, will you be taking your children to get it?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, immediately!
38% - 4082 votes
I'll wait to see how others respond
26% - 2777 votes
No, I don't think they need it
36% - 3918 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.29
(-0.52)
ZAR/GBP
21.24
(-0.12)
ZAR/EUR
18.29
(-0.11)
ZAR/AUD
11.81
(-0.08)
ZAR/JPY
0.14
(-0.10)
Gold
1700.44
(+0.04)
Silver
25.20
(+0.16)
Platinum
1128.01
(+0.31)
Brent Crude
69.67
(+3.93)
Palladium
2329.95
(+0.62)
All Share
68271.19
(+0.78)
Top 40
62788.64
(+0.87)
Financial 15
12759.80
(+0.67)
Industrial 25
87613.31
(-0.32)
Resource 10
70801.78
(+2.36)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo