Disinformation in a time of Covid-19: Weekly trends in South Africa

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6 July 2020, Daily Maverick, Thandi Smith & William Bird

The Real411 platform accepts complaints related to a variety of digital offences, including hate speech, incitement, harassment of journalists, and disinformation. The platform has been fully operational since 22 March 2020, and since then we have seen some dangerous disinformation circulating across our social media platforms.

Complaints have been submitted to the platform and action has been taken, often resulting in counter narratives being issued, or content being taken down. From 22 March to 28 June, 509 complaints have been received, 484 of which have been assessed and resolved.

This week, we wanted to offer a slightly different take on what we have seen over the past few months. The graph below depicts the number of complaints received on a weekly basis, and the number of instances of disinformation found in that same week. The trend we see, apart from a few exceptions, is that the higher the number of complaints, the higher the number of instances of disinformation found. Which makes sense.

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