Fake news, alternative facts fiction, faction – Contesting the 'true' story
Keywords:Fake news, Donald Trump, Echo chambers, Post-truth, War room, Gupta leaks, Covid-19, Pandemic
Relating the phenomenon to the South African context, this article investigates current debates about fake news – especially American (US) insights that covered the rise of Donald Trump. In taking this route, the article provides an exploratory overview of current debates on fake news and the variations that have emerged in South Africa. The article does not aim to provide a detailed content analysis of fake or spoof websites. Rather, the aim is to draw from insights that have emerged from the international debates, and use what is relevant to understand a very specific set of socio-political circumstances. Within this framework, and in the aftermath of misinformation scandals such as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the ANC War Room and the Bell-Pottinger smear campaign, the question that is asked is what implications the current debates on fake news have for South Africa. How do we understand these insights in the context of histories of conflict and high inequality? The article concludes that the prominence of fake news could serve to demonstrate mainstream media’s service to a particular ideological position at the expense of others in transitional societies with multiple viewpoints.
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