Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) flags over 300 cases of mis/disinformation during electoral period

Elections, the bedrock of democratic systems, are often marked by a surge of information dissemination as political players vie for the trust and votes of the electorate. Last month, South Africans headed to the polls to elect the 7th administration since the dawn of democracy. However, the campaign period and its aftermath were rife with mis/disinformation, with politicians and social media platforms being key conduits.

During the Africa Media Perspectives panel in Stellenbosch, Media Monitoring Africa’s Head of Programmes, Thandi Smith, highlighted a significant issue: the Real411 platform received over 1000 complaints during the 2024 electoral period, with more than 300 flagged as mis/disinformation. This marked a six-fold increase in complaints, underscoring the pervasive nature of false information during elections.

The election day may have come and gone, but the post-election propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation are still prevalent. It is crucial for residents to remain vigilant and verify facts before sharing information. Here are some ways to spot mis/disinformation:

  1. Check the Source: Always verify the credibility of the source. Established news organizations, official government websites, and verified social media accounts are generally reliable.
  2. Look for Evidence: Reliable information is typically backed by evidence. Check if the claims are supported by data, expert opinions, or direct quotes from reputable sources.
  3. Cross-Verify with Multiple Sources: Cross-check information with multiple reputable sources. If the story is only reported by one outlet, it could be a red flag.
  4. Beware of Emotional Manipulation: Mis/disinformation often plays on emotions to provoke a strong reaction. Be wary of content that seems designed to incite anger, fear, or outrage.
  5. Analyze the Language: Mis/disinformation may use sensationalist language or exaggerated claims. Be cautious of headlines or content that seems too extreme or outlandish.

By remaining informed and cautious, we can collectively combat the spread of false information and uphold the integrity of our democratic processes.

Report Disinformation: Disinformation leads to the erosion of the right to access to information and freedom of expression. Submit your complaint here and be an informed digital citizen.

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