Fake news, be gone! SA one of world's most reliable for Covid-19 news

09 April 2020 - 08:35 By Iavan Pijoos
South Africa is the second most reliable country in the world when it comes to reporting on the Covid-19 pandemic, a study has found.
South Africa is the second most reliable country in the world when it comes to reporting on the Covid-19 pandemic, a study has found.
Image: Gallo Images

SA is one of the most reliable countries in the world when it comes to Covid-19 news, a study has found.

The study was analysed by BreadCrumbs, a behavioural linguistics firm that combines sociolinguistics, psychology and marketing principles to create personalised and persuasive communication.

The recent study of Covid-19 content found that after Singapore in Asia, which took top honours, SA has the lowest “infodemic risk” percentage.

“The infodemic risk index takes into account the average amount of content posted each day, the truth reliability of native news and the truth reliability of bot-generated content.”

In SA there is an average of 19,574 Covid-related tweets daily. The study found that 77.8% of all Twitter Covid-19 content is reliable. The country’s infodemic risk is 0.005%.

A recent study done on Covid-19 content found that South Africa is second only to Singapore when it comes to low infodemic risk.
A recent study done on Covid-19 content found that South Africa is second only to Singapore when it comes to low infodemic risk.
Image: Source: COVID19 Infodemics Observatory

Fake news has become a global concern during the Covid-19 pandemic. SA has gazetted a new law under the Disaster Management Act where citizens could receive a fine or a six-month prison term for spreading fake news about the coronavirus. Social media lawyer Emma Sadleir takes you through all you need to know about the consequences of spreading fake news around Covid-19.

When comparing SA to other countries, the UK has a 27 times higher risk of misinformation.

In the USA, you have a 56 times higher risk of being exposed to fake news than in SA.  

“Congratulations, SA is a very reliable news country!” said lead researcher Manlio De Domenico.

“As we all try to make sense of the unfolding Covid-19 pandemic, the prevalence of fake news has come under the spotlight more than ever before,” said the company.

“You may have seen the now debunked stories of dolphins and swans returning to Venice’s canals or elephants lounging in rice paddies in Yunnan, China, where they hadn’t been seen for years. More ominously, you’ve likely been sent one of the many Covid conspiracy theories that have spread globally — as quickly as the infection pandemic itself.

“We are living in a time where anyone and everyone with a laptop or smartphone can offer their opinion instantly, often with either inadvertent misinformation or malicious intent. While some fake news may seem harmless — like the forged letter from the department of transport proclaiming the Easter Bunny as “essential services” — other cases have the potential to cause immense harm, such as the viral WhatsApp video claiming our local test kits are contaminated.

“This has resulted in what the World Health Organisation (WHO) now refers to as an infodemic: an over-abundance of information that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable health guidance when we need it most.”

The company said credible news sites had fewer typos, spelling mistakes or poor grammar.

South Africans are urged to refrain from spreading fake news and instead take a screenshot of it and report it by e-mail to fakenewsalert@dtps.gov.za or via WhatsApp to 067 966 4015.


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