We have seen some of the most outlandish claims regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) since the pandemic began to spread in earnest.

Of course, all of those claims were false, but it didn’t stop folks from sharing misinformation.

Unfortunately for those who share misinformation regarding COVID-19 in South Africa, there are consequences. Regulations put into place on 17th March make it an offence to share misinformation about COVID-19, the infection status of a person or the measures being taken by government.

Should you be found guilty of sharing fake news, you can find yourself with a fine, up to six months in prison or both.

Local government has said that over-the-top services and internet service providers must remove fake news from their platforms immediately after it is identified.

Of course, these organisations can’t see everything and it’s up to everybody to report fake news and misinformation.

The government has set up various ways for you to report fake news online.

South Africans can send what they suspect to be fake news to [email protected] or WhatsApp 067 966 4015.

You should include a screenshot of the social media post, article or document that you suspect is fake news together with a link to the post, article or document. It’s important that you include a screenshot and a link.

South Africans should be on the lookout for the following types of fake news and report it:

  • Disinformation: Information that is false and deliberately created to harm a person, social group, organisation or country for the purposes to influence public opinion or obscure the truth.
  • Misinformation: Information that is false but not created to cause harm or misleading readers.
  • Mal-Information: Deliberate publication of private information for personal or private interest, as well as the deliberate manipulation of genuine content.

Stay safe out there folks and remember to question any claims that come your way. If the information is not available on the Department of Health’s website or from a reliable news source, it’s more than likely fake and shouldn’t be shared.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]