Home South African IEC partners with social media giants to curb disinformation

IEC partners with social media giants to curb disinformation

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With the national and provincial elections around the corner, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has once again partnered with social media giants Google, Meta, and TikTok and the non-profit organisation Media Monitoring Africa to curb disinformation.

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WITH the national and provincial elections around the corner, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has once again partnered with social media giants Google, Meta, and TikTok and the non-profit organisation Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) to curb disinformation.

Electoral Commission chairperson Mosotho Moepya said that this framework was important because disinformation posed a threat to the exercise of various rights and to the access to constitutional protections, including freedom of expression, access to credible information and the freedom to make informed political choices.

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

The IEC The Real411 digital disinformation reporting platform, which is another effort to curb disinformation, will form part of the work of the Electoral Commission’s Directorate of Electoral Offences, which was first established before the 2016 Municipal Elections to investigate alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct and prohibited conduct as contained in the Electoral Act.

“The commission’s directorate, comprising independent attorneys, operates throughout the term of the election timetable. It investigates complaints and provides recommendations for possible further action,” said the commission.

William Bird, MMA Africa Director, explained how the Real411 platform works: “Real411 takes proactive measures against disinformation. Upon careful review of any reported complaint indicating disinformation or misinformation, the commission promptly notifies the relevant online platform. The platform is expected to acknowledge and swiftly process the notification, ensuring a diligent response.”

Senior manager for Government Affairs and Public Policy at Google Southern Africa, Abongile Mashile, said that Google had always been committed to supporting democratic processes, including supporting election integrity and ensuring trust among voters.

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

The Public Policy director for Africa at Meta, Balkissa Idè Siddo, said that protecting the integrity of the 2024 elections in South Africa was a key priority for the company.

“As our platforms continue to play an important role in civic discussions around the world, including here in South Africa, we know we have an important responsibility,” said Siddo.

She said that using lessons from the past and input from a range of experts, including dedicated and local teams within Meta, they continued to make substantial investments to help take aggressive steps in fighting abuse across their platforms while rolling out policies and products to help ensure safe and secure general elections.

Public Policy and Government Relations director at TikTok, Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda, added that at their company they took the responsibility to protect the community as well as the integrity of their platform, particularly around elections, with the utmost seriousness.

“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,” said Mgwili-Sibanda.

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