18 June 2018

South Africa: Election 2019 - IEC and Information Regulator Must Prepare for Possible Social Media Manipulation

analysis

South Africans will be voting in 2019 in what promises to be one of the most hotly-contested national elections. As has been shown in the US, UK and other parts of the world, social media and fake news can be manipulated by those who wish to influence an outcome. Will the IEC and the Information Regulator be up to the job? We asked them.

In light of the announcement of the hacking and holding to ransom of the server of the Liberty Group on Sunday, issues of South Africa's cybersecurity have been once again highlighted.

South Africans have had first-hand experience with the suffocating embrace, the disorientation and the chipping away at truth that fake news and social media attacks can have on the political landscape.

It was the British PR and "reputation management" firm, Bell Pottinger, contracted by the Gupta family, supposedly to manage their Oakbay account, which helped place the rhetoric of "white monopoly capital" in ANCYL president Collen Maine's mouth.

It was Bell Pottinger's Victoria Geoghegan who attempted to buff and salvage Gupta associate Duduzane Zuma's slight reputation in the country. The firm's strategy, after many public rebuttals and denials, was finally...

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