The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) says it has noticed an alarming trend of fake news websites publishing inaccurate information under the guise of news.
“Sanef notes and strongly condemns Monday’s false story about the well-being of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu which has done the rounds on social media. There have also been recent reports about former president Thabo Mbeki,” the forum said in a statement.
Such inaccurate reports by websites masquerading as credible news sources were highly damaging and hurtful to those involved and their families, the forum said. They also did a great disservice to legitimate news websites and the news industry as a whole.
“We also note that many of these fake sites purposefully use names and logos very similar to authentic media houses in an attempt to deceive their readers,” the statement reads.
Sanef called on the publishers to desist from publishing false and inflammatory stories with immediate effect, as it was “grossly irresponsible”.
Sanef also urged all South Africans not to perpetuate false news cycles by sharing such stories on their social media networks.
“We ask that greater attention be given to the source of news before simply retweeting or sharing.”
Sanef encouraged South Africans to ensure that they shared from well-established, trusted and credible news sources that are a legitimate part of the SA media landscape.
Sanef said it would look for an appropriate course of action to take against such fake news sites.