TRUMPING THE TRUTH
Anton Harber decodes the spin of fake news behind Ramaphosa’s sex scandal
How is the public to discern bogus stories — such as those smearing Hillary Clinton during last year’s US election — from the truth? It’s a question Cyril Ramaphosa’s supporters would want answered
Are these leaked accusations about deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa’s marital infidelities true? Is this real or is it fake news? How does one even know who to believe? Sifting fact from fiction is one of the biggest challenges facing society today. Of course, fake news is not new. You may remember US President Richard Nixon saying: "I am not a crook"; President Bill Clinton’s "I did not have sex with that woman"; and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s detailed evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. At home, the apartheid government’s Stratcom spread stories claiming Joe Slovo — rather than Pretoria’s own agents — killed his wife, Ruth First. They were all spreading disinformation to mislead citizens for their own political purposes. Today, we call it "fake news". So what changed? Why did the Oxford Dictionary name "post-truth" its new word of the year last year?The phenomenon has spawned neologisms, such as bot (a robot that floods social media with messages), cyborg (the comb...
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