A threat to democracy: COVID-19 has exposed how big fake news in SA is – experts

In South Africa, senior politicians and members of the judiciary have expressed doubts about the role of COVID-19 vaccines and the management of the pandemic.

FILE: Across the world, there have also been conspiracy theories about vaccines and how people can contract the coronavirus. Picture: iStock.

CAPE TOWN - Panelists in a webinar hosted by Wits University and government on Friday said the dissemination of fake news could damage democracy.

Experts said there had been a significant rise in false information peddling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In South Africa, senior politicians and members of the judiciary have expressed their doubts about the role of COVID-19 vaccines and the management of the pandemic.

ALSO READ: ANC, alliance partners to tackle fake news around COVID-19 vaccines - Ramaphosa

Across the world, there have also been conspiracy theories about vaccines and how people can contract the coronavirus.

Director at Media Monitoring Africa William Bird said: “We talk about disinformation or the myths of information. It's information that is false, inaccurate or misleading. So, it can be one of those three things.”

Dr Jabu Mtsweni from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research said the pandemic had exposed how big the problem was.

“We know that COVID-19 has really shown us how dangerous fake news and misinformation could be. And it's not only an SA problem, it's a global problem.”

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