Home crime Fake news and its influence ahead of the 2024 elections

Fake news and its influence ahead of the 2024 elections

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Social media is a great place to get information on the upcoming elections, but voters worry about fake news.

Social media is a great place to get information on the upcoming elections, but voters worry about fake news. File Picture: Dado Ruvic / Reuters

By: Hope Ntanzi

AS Individuals brace themselves for the significant 2024 elections, another formidable adversary emerges – fake news on social media.

The spread of fake news on social media platforms about the electoral process has emerged as a powerful force shaping public opinion and influencing voter behaviour during the upcoming elections.

In an era where information spreads like wildfire with just a click, the growth of false narratives poses a threat to the democratic process and voter sentiment. South Africans must navigate an unpredictable environment where the lines between the truth and lies are unclear, while battling an inflow of misinformation.

Fake news has a profound effect on social media, affecting voter behaviour and public opinion. Numerous residents find it more and more difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction news due to a flood of false headlines and photoshopped visuals that impair their judgement. The dissemination of misleading information simply serves to deepen the existing disagreements among voters as election campaigns heat up, planting the seeds of uncertainty and unrest.

‘’It’s overwhelming trying to navigate through the constant stream of fake news on my social media feed. There are moments when I am not sure what to believe. It seems like an endless struggle to distinguish reality from fiction,’’ said university student, Nqobile Mhlongo.

Small business owner operating in Durban CBD, Andile Nxumalo expressed her worries, saying, ‘’I am concerned about how fake news could affect the election process. False information and rumours spread quickly, especially in areas where there are few trustworthy sources of information available. This destroys public confidence in the democratic process and compromises the integrity of the elections.’’

Bayanda Hlela, a resident of Durban stresses the importance of media education: ‘’It is crucial to empower individuals with the necessary abilities to access online information critically. This entails educating voters about the dangers of fake news and equipping them with the means to authenticate the accuracy of the content that is consumed. Only through these measures can we ensure the prevention of our democracy’s integrity.’’

The national and provincial elections act as a point of reference to gauge the durability of democracy amid the disinformation, compelling voters to stay watchful and knowledgeable in their quest for truth before they head into the voting booth.

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IOL Elections

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