- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.