The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) have joined forces with Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Google to fight the spread of disinformation on their platforms in South Africa. This partnership will help South African voters to make more informed voting decisions in the municipal elections on November 1st.
Fake news on social media is a scourge that sways people's voting decisions and undermines democracy. Peter de Villiers-the mayoral candidate for South Africa's GOOD party-was recently the subject of an alleged piece of fake news in which he states that his party leader Patricia de Lille has a history of corruption.1 The country has its fair share of COVID fake news too, with an drug called Ivermectin being touted as a "miracle," but with a third of its drug trials showing signs of potential fraud. Despite this, many South Africans took to the street to demand that the authorities/politicians give them access to the drug.2
This kind of disinformation can be the difference between voting for an honest, effective candidate, or for someone less scrupulous. Accurate political information is the bloodline of democracy, which is why the IEC and MMA are forming the partnership with the major social platforms and Google to help stem the flow of fake news.
The IEC and MMA will use two pieces of software to aid their efforts: Real411, which allows them to report disinformation, incitement, and hate speech, and PADRE, which will serve as a central repository for political adverts, which stakeholders can easily access and review. When reports are made, the IEC's panel of attorneys will investigate them, and if necessary, take one of three actions:
● Forward them onto the relevant social platform, which has agreed to address them with urgency to preserve the integrity of the municipal elections. This may include removing the content or adding an advisory warning to alert people of its questionable authenticity.
● Refer the matter to the Electoral Court
● Issue media statements to let the public know about the disinformation
With this power, the IEC and MMA can help to preserve South African democracy during this important voting period, and help people to make the most accurate and informed decisions possible when selecting their candidate.
- Juniour Khumalo, 14th October 2021, GOOD's Peter de Villiers demands apology from Zille for sharing fake video of him, News24
- Rachel Schraer & Jack Goodman, 6th October 2021, Ivermectin: How false science created a Covid 'miracle' drug, BBC