During a press briefing by the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster on Sunday, State Security David Mahlobo said the regulation of social media was on the cards.
He said this was primarily due to the spread of fake news and scams. He was responding to a question from a journalist about fake news. They had earlier spoken about the need for South Africa not to panic about the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) grants crisis.
The briefing also discussed the problem of xenophobia, with Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba warning against calling migrants “illegals” or “illegal aliens” even if they were undocumented migrants.
Social media should not be used to peddle false information, Mahlobo explained. It could also involve more regulation of the internet in general.
“We are contemplating to regulate the space. Even the best democracies that are revered, they regulate the space,” Mahlobo said, acknowledging that this might interfere with human rights. As a result, there would be a lot of public consultation on the matter.
It’s unclear which “democracies” do this, since the foremost country that controls the use of the internet, China, is not a democracy in any sense of the word.
He mentioned the problems of people choosing to misrepresent themselves on social media, or pretending to be other people, and the photoshopping of images.
Over the past few months, a number of images emerged of public figures that went viral on social media, including a fake one of Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande in the nude.