THE opening volley in smear campaigns about social media sites which are “fake news” was led by television network eNCA yesterday. In a broadcast dealing with the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) decision to deal with fake news ahead of the elections, it displayed the home page of the Twitter account of Tumi Sole.
Sole, apart from raising awareness and funds for good causes, has been having heated exchanges with the DA’s Premier Helen Zille and as it often happens on Twitter, all the DA trolls come out to assist her.
There has been a global onslaught on alternative media by corporate media in the past two or three years, globally and here at home, and the attacks have included publicly defaming alternative media outlets and targeting social media accounts of people whose views go against corporate media and those they protect.
Accusations of “fake news” planted in social media sites first emerged shortly after the US Democrats and Hilary Clinton lost elections. They accused Russia of having planted these articles and helped US President Donald Trump to victory.
And overnight the accusations have spread around the world with online news sites being targeted as purveyors of propaganda based on unsubstantiated claims. There’s literally been a witch-hunt which has been promoted by tech giants like Google and Facebook. Facebook accounts have been closed at the behest of organisations which are supposedly funded by so-called philanthropist George Soros. In its defence, Facebook has disputed accusations that it is censoring alternative media saying it is “suppressing fake news”.
In South Africa, a little known research company, emerged two years ago to identify people on social media who it accused of being linked together by retweets of Twitter posts and their content. It identified alternative media sites like UnCensored as propaganda sites. The same happened this year and Sole made this list and Zille wrote a lengthy piece in Daily Maverick. Interestingly, the outspoken DA member Mbali Ntuli was also mentioned in the article. In both years, the smear campaign was published in Daily Maverick, identifying Twitter accounts whose posts the public ought to disregard and view as fake news. Missing from the list are the DA trolls who are well known on Twitter.
The veracity of the content that is declared “fake” is never the issue, it is enough for these corporate media to declare a site as such and there’s a decline in readership. The DA and its social media trolls, so much for their supposedly liberal stance and promotion of freedom of speech, are the first to complain about social media accounts that don’t agree with their point of view and have them shut down.
The smear campaign against alternative media peaks ahead of elections and it is essentially meant to tarnish and suppress visitors to the site or the social media account and ultimately, suppress alternative views of the world.
Broadcaster eNCA opened the floor yesterday and we can expect more. Missing from the list of Fake News sites will be eNCA itself for lying about Sole’s account which does not peddle fake news. Missing from the list and insidious attacks by corporate media will be the Sunday Times which is perhaps the biggest platform of fake news having confessed to lying to its readers over two or three years for the Rogue Unit story, the Cato Manor Death Squads and the Zimbabwean Rendition stories. The apology by the Sunday Times is itself fake news – the open letter by Mary De Haas, and my comments following the apology are here https://uncensoredopinion.co.za/wheres-the-fake-news-in-cator-manor-death-squads-stories/