Durban, KZN, South Africa - Cityscape
Durban, KZN, South Africa - Cityscape Magda Ehlers/

Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) Communications Manager Nomshado Lubisi-Nkosinkulu said fake news can pose a threat to the upcoming elections in South Africa, calling it an "explosion of information."

Government Communication and Information System (GCSI) hosted a webinar on Tuesday, where Lubisi-Nkosinkulu noted that too much information on social media is making it difficult for people to know what is real and what is fake.

MMA is an entity that promotes ethical and fair journalism alongside human rights and democracy. South Africa is all set to witness the seventh general elections on May 29 and the organization noted ahead of elections that "democracy is under threat."

"South Africa is dealing with unprecedented threats, and political analysts are calling the upcoming elections period as one of the most crucial, potentially aggressive, elections periods in our young democracy," she said, SA News reported.

She went on to explain that there has been a dramatic increase in misinformation and disinformation on social media platforms while there is a lack of strong digital and media literacy skills in the common people.

Hence, it has become more difficult than ever to find out what reports are credible. "It becomes more important than ever before for traditional media to not only be credible but also well equipped to deliver their mandate of informing and educating," she said.

Lubisi-Nkosinkulu stressed that such false, inaccurate or misleading information is being spread intentionally to cause public harm and gain advantage. She explained how such disinformation has a little bit of truth mixed in it, which eventually makes people angry, anxious, fearful and uncertain.

She suggested South Africans use dedicated tools like Real411 to fight, mitigate and investigate disinformation and other online harms during the election period.

Real411 application - available on Google Play and the App Store - allows people to report digital harms including fake news to ensure that online content is assessed and addressed in an independent, open, transparent and accountable manner.

Furthermore, citizens also have access to the Political Party Advert Repository (PAdRE), aiming to increase access to information during elections, aligned with the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights' Guidelines On Access To Information And Elections In Africa.

TikTok Sub-Saharan Africa Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda also spoke about the misinformation on social media, noting that TikTok's Community Guidelines ensure that the upcoming election's integrity is maintained.

Earlier this week, Deputy National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, Lieutenant General Tebello Mosikili warned communities against vandalizing, defacing and removing posters of political parties ahead of the 2024 National and Provincial Elections.