Government ramps up campaign against Covid-19 fake news

Acting minister of communications Jackson Mthembu says once fake news items or social media posts have been identified, the platform owners will be notified to take down the posts.
Acting minister of communications Jackson Mthembu says once fake news items or social media posts have been identified, the platform owners will be notified to take down the posts. 
Image: Sunday Times/Esa Alexander

The government has put in place a hi-tech monitoring and evaluation process to tackle fake news being shared on various platforms and have them investigated by police for prosecution.

“We are stepping up our campaign against digital misinformation, particularly in relation to Covid-19 and related actions such as the national lockdown,” acting minister of communications Jackson Mthembu said on Wednesday.

Mthembu said once fake news items or social media posts had been identified, the platform owners would be notified to take down the posts.

“Electronic communications services licensees, including over-the-top media service providers and internet service providers that are in the service of providing  linear and non-linear services, will then have the responsibility to remove fake news from their platforms with immediate effect.

“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,” he warned.

Mthembu said the campaign against fake news was a collaboration between the department, the Government Communication and Information System, Media Monitoring Africa and the CovidComms volunteer communication network. 

Complaints about fake news can be channelled through the Real411 website: www.real411.org or via a WhatsApp line on 067 966 4015.


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