Government has set-up a hi-tech monitoring and evaluation platform in an effort to ramp up state capacity to monitor and respond to misinformation and fake news proliferating during the COVID-19 outbreak.
In a statement, acting Communication Minister Jackson Mthembu said the intervention is being put in place to assess complaints and reports from the media, the public and other sectors of society. The platform has the ability to take down fake news items on a range of platforms and submit cases to the SAPS for investigation and prosecution.
This solution is a unique collaboration between the Department, the Government Communication and Information System, Media Monitoring Africa and the COVIDComms volunteer communication network.
“It forms part of the work of a special Ministerial Task Team established by the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, which also includes representatives from ICASA, Film and Publications Board, ZADna, mobile phone companies and other key players in the ICT sector, including platform owners,” read the statement.
The Ministry said 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 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,” the Ministry said.
Complaints can be channeled through the Real411 website: www.real411.org Or the Whatsapp line: 067 966 4015.
“We are stepping up our campaign against digital misinformation, particularly in relation to COVID-19 and related actions such as the national lockdown,” said Mthembu.
He reminded the public that the spreading of 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,” Mthembu added. – SAnews.gov.za