Social media in Niger came under a massive disinformation attack in February, an AFP Fact Check investigation has found

The Electoral Commission (IEC) signed a framework with social media platforms such as Google, Meta, TikTok, and the non-profit organization Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) to reduce the spread of disinformation.

South Africa is due to hold National and Provincial Elections in 2024 and the pact is expected to help curb disinformation and other digital harms, SA News reported

While IEC has collaborated with social media giants before, this is the first time when the government office has signed a Framework of Cooperation.

Electoral Commission Chairperson, Mosotho Moepya, shared that this framework is essential to stop spreading disinformation on the internet as it poses a threat to the country.

"The dissemination of disinformation has huge potential to undermine the fairness and credibility of elections. Credible information is the lifeblood of all democracies," Moepya said on Tuesday, SA News reported. "Trustworthy information is crucial in the process that enables citizens to choose their leaders."

The framework covers building cooperation during the election period, respecting existing laws, and does not require sharing confidential user data, social media platforms should be aligned with the South African Constitution, the Electoral Act, and the Electoral Code of Conduct.

Moreover, this partnership will promote access to accurate information, conduct awareness campaigns on elections, and educate political parties and candidates alongside other key election stakeholders on how to address disinformation.

This framework will also allow online platforms to implement policies and processes such as content removal, advisory warnings, and delisting while it enables signatories to cooperate with the IEC and MMA on initiatives including (complaints platform) and (transparent repository of political advertisements) to fight against disinformation.

The MMA Africa Director named William Bird shared the importance of Real411, which takes "proactive measures against disinformation."

"Upon careful review of any reported complaint indicating disinformation or misinformation, the Commission promptly notifies the relevant online platform," Bird added. "The platform is expected to acknowledge and swiftly process the notification, ensuring a diligent response."

Abongile Mashele, Senior Manager Government Affairs and Public Policy at Google Southern Africa, noted that the platform has always been "committed to supporting democratic processes, including supporting elections integrity and ensuring trust among voters."

She continued, "We place a big focus on creating products and programmes that enable people across the globe to engage with these activities through the information that is accurate, protecting elections and campaigns from bad actors, as well as assisting campaigns in managing their digital presence."

Public Policy Director for Africa at Meta, Balkissa Idè Siddo shared that protecting South Africa's upcoming elections integrity is a "key priority" for the company, adding that all Meta platforms including Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram "continue to play an important role in civic discussions around the world."

The Public Policy and Government Relations Director at TikTok, also shared similar sentiments, noting that the company is looking forward to protecting its users, particularly around elections.

"We're proud to be a place that brings people together over creative and entertaining content, and we work hard to keep harmful misinformation and other violations of our policies off our platform," Mgwili-Sibanda said.