The recently launched news and opinion website Huffington Post SA is embroiled in controversy after it emerged it had published an opinion piece by a writer who appears to not actually exist.
The opinion piece advocated for white men to lose the right to vote and was reportedly very popular on the site. However, when Cape Town editor and writer Laura Twiggs investigated the supposed author of the opinion piece, Shelley Garland, it emerged that she appeared to be a fake online construction.
Garland had earlier been described as an “MA Philosophy Student” and her Twitter bio said she was a “Perpetual Feminist causing the retreat of patriarchy”, and lived in Auckland, New Zealand.
Twiggs could, however, not find any records of her at the University of Johannesburg, where she claimed to have studied. She had also claimed to be a University of Cape Town student.
Huffpost SA later took down the column and editor Verashni Pillay wrote that “We have done this because the blog submission from an individual who called herself Shelley Garland, who claimed to be an MA student at UCT, cannot be traced and appears not to exist.”
DA member of parliament John Steenhuisen on Saturday called for Pillay to resign, claiming that she had also incorrectly reported, while editor of the Mail & Guardian, that DA leader Mmusi Maimane had been taking leadership lessons from former National Party president FW de Klerk.
The hashtag “The Huffington Ghost” has been on the Twitter trends list ever since.
Here are some of the responses from some users towards the “scandal”: