Misinformation has been normalised today and because news spreads so fast, for a long time, communities are failing to effectively deal with fake news. Every time I stumble upon a fact checking platform (especially one relevant to Zim or Africa) I’m really relieved that efforts are being made to try inform the public with facts.
There are various types of fact checking but usually, it boils down to two things;
- Ante-hoc fact checking– which is fact checking before dissemination. If facts can’t be confirmed before the information is released then it won’t be released at all.
- Post-hoc fact checking– fact checking after something has already been reported. It usually followed by a written of the inaccuracies.
Africa Check falls more in the second group of fact checkers. They look at stories that are trending and they debunk whether or not the claims in these stories are true or false. One particularly interesting article that made me a fan of the site was their piece on South African government spending. They dispelled the myth that the South African government spends about R8 out of R10 on salaries for civil servants. This myth was being spread by the Times Live and The Citizen which have a relatively large following.
In a perfect world, people would turn to platforms such as Zimfacts and Africa Check when stories go viral and just as quickly as people spread inaccurate information, they would also spread the real thing. I don’t see this becoming the case any time soon as people usually spread news that aligns with their beliefs so once a fact-checking site debunks the myths that people believe, I don’t think many will be quick to warm to these platforms. The work they are doing is nonetheless vital and if you are interested in knowing what’s actually true/false popping in to read from either site will separate you from the common man who just states opinions as facts.