ANC issues 'fake news' alert after WhatsApp message goes viral

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The ANC has warned its members not to believe fake news articles that are being distributed on WhatsApp.
The ANC has warned its members not to believe fake news articles that are being distributed on WhatsApp.
  • WhatsApp is being used to distribute false messages about the ANC NEC's meeting. 
  • Two messages, purporting to be News24 articles, were distributed over WhatsApp in the past three days.
  • The ANC has cautioned its members not to believe these fake articles. 

The ANC has alerted its members that a fake news article, purporting to be from News24, is being distributed on the messaging platform WhatsApp. 

In a message posted by the governing party's Twitter account, a bright red "fake news alert" was pasted on the false article, that claims an ANC official had altered a media statement by the party's national executive committee (NEC) without informing the ANC's officials.

This was the second time in the past three days that a fake news article, using News24's brand, had been distributed via WhatsApp. The first message on Saturday claimed that the party had suspended Carl Niehaus, an employee in Secretary-General Ace Magashule's office, and coordinator of the so-called "Radical Economic Transformation" faction in the party.

These false articles are written and designed in a way to look authentic. These latest two articles were distributed during the crucial meeting of the ANC's NEC, during which the party was expected to deal with Magashule's fate in light of the corruption charges he faces.

News24's editor-in-chief, Adriaan Basson, has warned the reading public to be extremely vigilant when receiving "news articles" on messaging platforms like WhatsApp.

"There has definitely been an increase in these types of fake news articles, that use our logo and URL to distribute misinformation. They abuse our brand to lend legitimacy to their fake news," Basson said. 

He recommended that readers visit the websites of the news brands that supposedly write these articles, if they are unsure of their authenticity. "We don't publish articles on WhatsApp. We publish on News24's website, mobile site and app. If you receive one of these dodgy messages on WhatsApp, please go to our website to check if the article really exists," Basson said.

In their latest trust barometer study, consultancy firm Edelman found that 76% of participants globally were concerned about fake news being used as weapons. Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande recently cautioned that fake news could hamper South Africa's rollout of Covid-19 vaccines. 


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