'Beware of parody accounts'

'Beware of parody accounts'

By Daniel Itai, Johannesburg, South Africa

Following a series of social media rants that have been specifically aimed at non-South Africans some media experts have urged users to be wary of user accounts that falsify information.

“Social media has no ethics normal journalism has standards that they have to adhere to, ethical principals, the moment they veer  off then that’s no longer proper journalism that’s why we need mainstream media to authenticate the stories.

As much as mainstream media must report on xenophobia because it’s trending on social media, they must verify that information first to make sure that falsehoods are not exacerbated. The mainstream media must always be on their guard.

However, we don’t support the notion of censoring or criminalising what people post as this can lead to dictatorial governments which in turn will infringe the rights of the people to freedom of expression,” said William Bird, Executive director of Media Monitoring Africa.

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Moreover, Jean Le Roux, a digital forensic investigator who recently unmasked former South African National Defence Force (SANDF) member, Sfiso Gwala, who is behind the social media account @uLerato_pillay which has been sharing anti-foreign national sentiments said they has to be an underlying gain on why these parody accounts are established.

“It’s very difficult to gauge the actual impact of these parody accounts. There is no financial gain from Twitter, but we suspect there is an underlying gain for that,” said Le Roux.