Africa Check fighting misinformation to strengthen democracy in South Africa
The impact of half-truths, hoaxes and misleading information can be life-threatening, ranging from the misapplication of funds and poor policymaking to misdiagnosis and even violence and death. Misinformation can spread quickly – often faster than facts.
These problems pre-date the internet and social media, but the accessibility of technology and the rise of social media platforms have enabled mis- and disinformation to travel faster and more easily than ever, with severe consequences.
Based on experience, we expect to see misinformation increase in the months leading up to the local government elections.
Political parties have been formulating their strategies for the elections and, in the volatile political environment, the claims and counterclaims that are part of any democracy must be fact-checked carefully and impartially, enabling voters to determine the facts.
Africa Check will tackle this problem through a multi-pronged, pre-bunking and debunking approach that will include increased fact-checking, a robust information literacy campaign, fact-checking training for journalists, and working community media to distribute our content.
We believe such a holistic approach is key to improving the quality of public debate and enabling people to make better evidence-based decisions.
Building on the lessons learnt during the 2019 general elections, we have bolstered our approach to tackling misinformation circulating and providing voters with reliable nonpartisan information on key campaign issues. This work will focus on four key activities:
1) Unpacking manifestos of the major parties and publishing factsheets to set out clear, nonpartisan information related to key campaign issues
2) Monitoring and fact-checking election-related claims made by politicians on the campaign trail.
3) Distributing information literacy material across various channels including on social media, community radio stations and community newspapers across SA.
4) Providing fact-checking skills to journalists and civil society organisations ahead of the elections
Africa Check publishes all its fact-checks, factsheets, and other useful content on its website: africacheck.org