The government is contemplating the regulation of social media to halt what it calls the spread of misinformation.

Yes, if you’ve ever shared a story before fact-checking it, you may have prompted big brother to look over your shoulder in the online space. Congrats.

At a press briefing for the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster in Pretoria yesterday, State Security Minister David Mahlobo the government was looking at the spreading of ‘fake news’ and scams on social media as a growing problem.

“The false narrative in the social media; it’s one of the challenges that South Africa faces,” Mahlobo said.

“We are contemplating to regulate the space. Even the best democracies that are revered, they regulate the space,” he said.

Mahlobo said that implementing regulation on social media would be, to say the least, challenging, given that any such move would likely draw massive amounts of criticism from quite a few quarters. He said that the consultation would likely involve input from various forums, so that any regulation would not be seen as an attempt to trample human rights.

While we at htxt concur that the spread of misinformation over social media – please, people, check your facts – is an issue, the fact that the government is thinking about policing that digital space makes us shudder. The announcement dovetails quite scarily with a growing trend on the African continent in which governments are tightening their grips on the digital space.  Think on that before you share, like and spread a story that may not be true.