With a month to go before the local National Elections, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has launched an online reporting platform in partnership with Media Monitoring South Africa, with the aim to help combat the scourge of disinformation intended to unfairly influence voters.

According to SA News the launch follows the rise in disinformation, especially via digital platforms and the potential negative impact they may have on the integrity of elections.

The project has two key parts.

IEC said that the first part will highlight the risks and dangers of intentionally false and misrepresented information for free and fair elections, and in raising the consciousness of the public in relation to this problem.

The second will provide an online platform which will allow members of the public, media, political parties, candidates and other interest groups to quickly and easily report to the IEC potential disinformation, which may be in breach of the Electoral Code of Conduct and then allow the IEC to rapidly and efficiently deal with such complaints.

“It also includes providing tools and assistance to voters, the media, political parties, candidates and others in helping to identify false information and knowing what steps to take to query and lodge complaints regarding potential instances of disinformation,” said chief electoral officer, Sy Mamabolo.

The IEC added that the platform will have a panel of experts in media law and social media disinformation who will assess and investigate complaints and make a recommendation to the Commission for consideration.

Actions of the panel could include, requesting social media platforms to remove offensive or inaccurate material, petitioning political parties or candidates to clarify the disinformation, issuing media statements to alert the public and correct the disinformation and referring the matter for criminal or civil legal action if necessary.

“The site will contain a database of all complaints received and their progress so that other social media users can see if an issue has already been dealt with and what the outcome was,” added Mamabolo.

[Source – SA News]