26 March 2020, Lesley Stones
The team at Media Monitor Africa and its director William Bird probably don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this social media madness or the fake facts published in the formal media. But they’ve taken action by relaunching their fake news detection service, the Real411, to identify and take down falsehoods that could influence people’s thinking. Real411 was originally launched to counter disinformation ahead of South Africa’s elections and it’s been repurposed to fight the Covid-19 scaremongering. Fittingly, plans for a physical press conference were scrapped and the relaunch was streamed live on Twitter, with the panellists sitting well spaced out on a stage with no audience.
It takes its name from the slang of 411 to mean genuine information, dating from dialling 411 to get the phone number of anyone listed in the US phone directory.