African governments, Facebook and Twitter are fighting to dispel misinformation on coronavirus

20 March 2020

Digital Content

With nearly 600 confirmed coronavirus cases across Africa, public anxiety and safety fears are proving fertile ground for the spread of misinformation.

But just as they deal with testing, diagnosing and treating patients, some governments on the continent are also being deliberate about pushing back against false information.

South Africa’s national health department has set up a WhatsApp support service to provide information to locals. The automated service shares information ranging from symptoms, prevention tips and testing information to users after a keyword prompt. Crucially, it also dispels growing myths about cures, from eating garlic to taking hot water baths, and sensitizes about possible scams looking to take advantage of the public’s fears. While it offers citizens a credible source for information, South Africa authorities are also penalizing anyone spreading coronavirus-realted misinformation with six-month jail terms and fines. Read the full article on Quartz Africa here.