COVID-19: Government to clamp down on 'fake' posts

File: A "high-tech monitoring and evaluation process" is being rolled out to intercept misinformation about the virus and government responses to the outbreak.

File: A "high-tech monitoring and evaluation process" is being rolled out to intercept misinformation about the virus and government responses to the outbreak.

Pixabay/memyselfaneye

JOHANNESBURG - Government announced new measures to crack down on false information about coronavirus making the rounds of various social media platforms.

A "high-tech monitoring and evaluation process" is being rolled out to intercept misinformation about the virus and government responses to the outbreak, said a statement by the communications department.

Several misleading posts have been circulating since South Africa detected its first coronavirus case last month, including fake presidential announcements.

READ: 'Prophet' arrested for fake news

"We are stepping up our campaign against digital misinformation, particularly in relation to COVID-19 and related actions such as the national lockdown," said Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu.

"We also need to remind South Africans that spreading fake news or disinformation about COVID-19 is a punishable offence," Mthembu added.

"Arrests have already been made, and they will continue if people persist in spreading fake news."

READ: COVID-19: WCape man in court for alleged fake news post

Under emergency laws enacted last month aimed at curbing growing infections, peddling misinformation on the deadly coronavirus in South Africa will attract up to six months in jail or a fine.

The media and members of the public will now be able to report any disinformation to a special task team composed of government, private sector and civil society representatives.

The new team can order platform owners to take down false posts and submit certain cases to the police.

READ: Coronavirus In SA: Spreading fake news could land you in jail

A WhatsApp number (067 966 4015) and a website (www.real411.org) have been set up for people to report any misinformation they may come across.

- Coronavirus Hotline Number: 0800 029 999 from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday

Help protect your loved ones by sharing this official South African government COVID-19 service with your family, friends and community.

Send HI to 0600 123 456 on WhatsApp.

The NICD has another Clinician Hotline to improve #COVID19 communication and support for healthcare providers. The Clinician Hotline is 0800 11 1131, operating 24 hrs. The Public Hotline is 0800 029 999 also operating 24hrs.

Source
AFP