Nothing spreads faster these days than fake news. While the world is out trying to fight one of the biggest pandemics in modern history, many people would rather choose to forego expert opinion and what the leaders of their countries are telling them to do, and rather base all of their decision-making on what their friend Karen posted on their neighbourhood WhatsApp group. After all, a penchant for scepticism and conspiracy theories is clearly more reputable than a legitimate doctorate it would seem.
South Africa’s government realises the big role WhatsApp groups have in spreading a variety of information and as a result, the government has declared that administrators of these different groups could be held liable for the spread of misinformation with up to 6 months imprisonment as part of the current COVID-19 disaster regulations according to Business Insider.
Before you get excited about finally getting a chance to shut up that neighbour who keeps sharing a variety of false information to you, according to the regulations, the news has to be spread with deliberate malicious intent with the administrator aware that the information shared is false. The regulation is not designed to catch out your ill-informed mom, but more the person who is deliberately trying to undermine the efforts of government during this time.
Still, it’s a good move to hold certain people accountable for the spread of fake news and a reminder to all of us to fact check everything that comes our way before we pass on the message to others. Or you know, listen to the experts on the matter instead.
Last Updated: April 9, 2020