SA War On Fake News And Online Scam: Mahlobo Warns Of Possible Social Media Regulation


Following fights against the rise of online scams and fake news on social media, South Africa’s Minister of State Security David Mahlobo warns of a possible social media regulation.

Speaking on Sunday at a media question and answer session that followed a press briefing by the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster, the minister said the state government was considering moves to regulate social media so it would help curb the proliferation of “false” information.

“The false narrative in the social media, it’s one of the challenges that South Africa faces,” said minister David Mahlobo who also added that the planned measures would also go after misleading photoshopped images.

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Acknowledging the fact that government’s decision to track down social media crimes would likely draw a wave of criticism and fears of stifling human rights, the minister however, noted that social media regulation was the best way to go in bringing media sanity.

“Social media regulation is the way to go, even the best democracies … regulate ‘social media’, said the 45-year-old minister who made it clear that his department would be discussing how to actually go about the regulation. 

Touching on areas where the regulations will centre, Mahlobo spoke on terrorism, saying that South Africa was not an exception when it came to being a target of terrorists.

The minister went on to say that attempts at regime change are happening and that counter-intelligence was dealing with this.

“We are committed to ensure that our country remains relatively safe and free of any attempts to destabilize it. Joint operations of all intelligence community structures will continue as well as the sharing of information critical to countering any threats that is identified.

We know who does what.

We do that work quietly because at the end of the day South Africa should never be a failed state. Our duty is to protect its sovereignty”.

SA’s move to curb curb the spread of misinformation follows moves by Facebook, Google, and a group of international media to prevent the spread of fake news.

As South Africa still ranks among some of the freest media environments on the continent, the parliament has for the past two years been considering a bill that would criminalize cyber-facilitated offenses.

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One of the most visited social media, Facebook announced in mid-January that it was introducing new measures to take down ‘unambiguously wrong reports’ being shared on the social media platform.

It said it would offer a simpler reporting process for users to flag suspected fake news, display warnings next to statements identified as false by independent fact-checking organizations, and cut off advertising revenue to fake news sites presenting themselves as real news organizations.

Google joined by saying in late January that it took down 1.7 billion ads last year as part of its fight against ‘bad ads, sites, and scammers’ that tricked people, and Google, by pretending to offer real news but instead took people to promotional pages.