The campaign is geared towards educating and informing South Africans on how to spot disinformation campaigns, the importance of fact-checking and techniques used in the past to disrupt and manipulate political discourse.
The project will be rolled out on social media, national, provincial and community media.
Focus will be placed on community media as a platform to reach rural communities who do not have the same access to information as more urban South Africans. The content will also be translated in all of South Africa’s 11 languages.
“Disinformation experts use many psychological tactics to convince and persuade citizens that what they are saying is true,” says Dr David Rosenstein, clinical psychologist and behavioural scientist.
“Therefore, our media literacy campaign will also equip citizens with information and knowledge that has emerged from the behavioural sciences, to help citizens understand the psychology behind disinformation, and to combat disinformation.”
“The education phase is aimed at grassroots movements and communities, and we will be reaching into our pool for community media, community broadcasters, and community activists to ensure that communities as voters themselves and rights-bearing members of society have access to education around disinformation,” says Communications Rights Activist, Lazola Kati.
“Unfortunately, we can no longer believe everything we see online. But at the same time, we cannot afford to disbelieve everything because we cannot perpetually live in a state of distrust,” says Adebayo Okeowo, African Program Manager for WITNESS.
“Citizens must therefore develop the skills to decipher between what is true and what is not. We hope to assist with that through our media literacy campaign. The truth has got to mean something!”
The project’s partners will also continue to monitor communications from political parties, using technological tools and data science, for any disinformation in violation of the IEC Code of Conduct. Any instances of disinformation detected will be reported to the Electoral Court.
The 2021 Local Government Anti-Disinformation Project is a first-of-its-kind common-purpose “country duty” collaborative project against disinformation and misinformation.
The project’s partners are Phumzile Van Damme, Code For Africa, Superlinear, Dr David Rosenstein and WITNESS. The project’s partners maintain their independence and, on a voluntary basis, are collaborating to tackle disinformation in the lead up to the elections.
Take a look at some of its messaging below: