Extract

In an opinion piece he wrote for the New York Times, the publisher of an online Indian news portal, Samir Patil, called fake news an infectious disease rather than a technological or scientific problem with a quick fix.

 

It should be treated as a new kind of public health crisis in all its social and human complexity, he wrote, adding that the answer might lie in the way epidemics — which have similar characteristics — are dealt with.

I went back over my years as a journalist covering pandemic outbreaks — Asian flu; swine flu; Ebola; HIV/Aids among them — and realised that all those have needed both public- and private-sector involvement. Research has had to be funded; global plans put in place to tackle containment; outbreaks tracked; medicines developed and tested; healthcare provided. The list is long. This gargantuan, multi-pronged approach, Patil thinks, is what is needed to respond to and tackle disinformation and fake news. And I think he’s right. It’s an all pervasive virus, this hideous new concoction of our times, fake news. This morning, less than a week before our elections, my helper showed me several messages sent on WhatsApp to her phone by friends and members of her family. All forwarded and re-forwarded messages included pictures, video, and texts that cited a host of promises coming, apparently, from EFF leader, Julius Malema. One message promised that there would be no forced removals if EFF vo...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, Morningstar financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.