22 July 2021, JacarandaFM, Poelano Malema

Director of Media Monitoring Africa William Bird says it’s only getting worse.

“Mis- and disinformation are like the pandemic itself, these are things that are evils that are with us and are not going away anytime soon,” says Bird.

“What we are seeing is a clear identification of the trends so when Covid-19 started a lot of the trends were about ‘does this exist? Has it been made up? Is it being released by Chinese? Has been released by Bill Gates?’ All sorts of things to suggest it wasn’t there

“As that moved on and we began to see new events we began to see an uptick in mis- and disinformation. Now we’re at the vaccine programme and suddenly we start to see less of a focus on Covid-19 not existing and more focus on the vaccines not working – ‘they haven’t been tested, they have microchips in them, they contain the foetuses of babies’ – all of these crazy ideas about vaccines.”

Birds adds these are some the examples of fake news making the rounds.

He believes such examples have done some damage to government’s vaccine programme.

“There’s no doubt about that. It’s clear that some of the people’s fears get heightened by that,” says Bird.

“When you are dealing with something new like that, people normally and appropriately are a bit sceptical and nervous of that kind of thing and what the misinformation does it heighten that fear.”

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