Mthethwa says sorry after falling for fake news

16 April 2018 - 08:48 By Timeslive
Nathi Mthethwa. File photo.
Nathi Mthethwa. File photo.
Image: Trevor Samson

It's happened to most of us but unfortunately‚ when you're a cabinet minister‚ falling victim to manipulation can sometimes have international connotations.

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa has formally apologised to Britain after slamming the country over comments attributed to it on the thorny issue of land expropriation‚ only to find out they were not true.

"In March this year Minister Nathi Mthethwa read media reports on online platforms with statements that the government of Britain had expressed reservations about South Africa’s intention to expropriate land without compensation‚" his office said.

On Human Rights Day at the official occasion to commemorate the 58th anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre‚ Mthethwa slammed this alleged stance of the British government‚ asserting South Africa’s inalienable right to self-determination as a sovereign state.

However‚ "in light of official communication that the British government does not hold the views reported and that the reportage of these statements is 'fake news' - Minister Mthethwa wishes to unreservedly withdraw the statements he made in his response‚" his office said.

“It has now been officially communicated to me that the reported allegation is in fact 'fake news'‚ and that the British government has not expressed any misgivings in respect of South Africa’s stance on the expropriation of land without compensation. Accordingly‚ I hereby revoke and recant the assertions made in this regard‚ in full recognition and appreciation of the excellent relations and deep bonds of friendship that exist between Britain and our republic.”

TimesLIVE has previously reported on the mushrooming of fake news websites‚ including in South Africa.

A good rule to adopt is to question anything that sounds far-fetched and "too juicy".

Some fake news websites are also easy to spot because they use domain names of already existing websites and change one or two letters in the name.

World Wide Worx owner and Johannesburg-based technology expert Arthur Goldstuck explained to TimesLIVE previously that these websites were created to publish fake news for the viewing traffic they generate‚ which is then monetised through advertising.

According to Goldstuck‚ the website’s traffic is generated by the number of visits the site receives‚ with those numbers charted. These numbers are then submitted to advertising companies who‚ based purely on the number of visits the site receives‚ willingly advertise‚ making the website creators money.

“Most of these advertisers don’t even check [to see] where their adverts appear‚ they just provide them‚” Goldstuck said. "The only thing they take into consideration is how much traffic the website has."