Zimbabwe: Zim Steps Up War Against Fake News

20 March 2018

Zimbabwe's online national-fact checking platform (ZimFact), which seeks to reduce the circulation of false information on media platforms, was officially launched last Friday.

Speaking during the launch, ZimFact chairman Mr Alec Muchadehama said the spreading of misleading information would be a thing of the past, as the public would have access to verified news and information.

"The major aim of fact-checking platforms is to reduce the circulation of false claims, to improve public understanding and to help discourage public officials, authorities, private and public bodies from disseminating misleading information," said Mr Muchadehama.

"Fact-checking is described generally as verifying the factual accuracy of information and claims disseminated on public platforms. It involves reviewing and investigating claims and publishing reports on their ac- curacy."

ZimFact Editor-in-Chief Cris Chinaka said both journalists and the public would benefit a lot from the initiative.

"The ZimFact will be a checking platform in different media organisations," said Chinaka.

Mr Muchadehama said ZimFact would not compete with mainstream media or social media, but would be a partner to help the public to trust the media.

"We are complementing the media in fact-checking news and stories that they may have been produced under pressure of time and where the facts could be in dispute or questionable," he said. "We are also fact-checking the sources of information, be it in politics or developmental agenda.

"We want to contribute to the building of a culture of using proven facts in news and information dissemination. Successful fact-checking involves cooperation and not competition, because the aim is that checking platforms become a useful reference resource for those in the media and information sector."

Officially launching the online platform, South Africa's Star newspaper editor, Mr Japhet Ncube, said the platform would assist South African newspapers to get the correct Zimbabwean story.

"The biggest challenge for the mainstream media is to be first with the news, especially with the rise of social media," he said. In the era of fake news, it is important for us as the media to fact check and use those traditional ways of verifying.

"I am happy that you have launched this important fact checking organisation. I hope it will help us in South Africa. This platform is going to make our work easier. There is a claim that there are four million Zimbabweans in South Africa. Is that a fact?"

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