Comms department fights COVID-19 fake news

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As the world battles the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), authorities are also fighting the spread of misinformation or fake news about the deadly virus.

In SA, the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) says it has engaged platform owners, asking them to “quickly remove any content that is reported fake”.

This is according to DCDT minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, saying her department has prioritised the fight against fake information that has escalated during this pandemic.

“We are happy to say the response has been positive and the platform owners have signed an agreement with the department,” said Ndabeni-Abrahams.

Although she didn’t reveal the platform owners the DCDT has engaged, the ministry’s spokesperson, Nthabeleng Mokitimi-Dlamini, confirmed engagements have taken place with Google, Facebook and Twitter.

The South African government has warned against the spread of digital misinformation as it tries to curb the spread of the disease in the country.

As a result, government now qualifies the spread of fake news or disinformation about coronavirus as a punishable offence.

It states: “Any person who publishes any statement, through any medium, including social media, with the intention to deceive any other person about COVID-19, the infection of any person or any measure taken by the state to address the virus – commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or both such fine and imprisonment.”

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