Media Monitoring Africa and IEC officials during the launch of digital disinformation initiative ahead of the country's elections next month. Picture: Brenda Masilela/ANA

Pretoria - The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has partnered with Media Monitoring Africa to launch an online reporting platform aimed at addressing the dissemination of false information ahead of country's elections next month.

The pilot project is in response to the rise of incidents of disinformation and its potential to impact the upcoming elections on May 8.

The IEC said the newly launched website will give citizens an opportunity to report instances of false reporting and offensive content that is intentionally intended to influence the outcome of the upcoming elections.

"This will also allow the public to check for themselves the veracity of campaign material and quickly determine whether a poster or pamphlet has been photoshopped or otherwise altered to undermine the party," said IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabola.

He said the site contained a database of all complaints received and their progress. It will also include a communication and education strategy to help educate voters about the dangers of disinformation and how to spot fake news.

"This may not be a solution that will deal with misinformation, however, it is one step towards dealing with misinformation."

To help distinguish between official and fake adverts, vice chairperson of the IEC, Janet Love, said political parties contesting the 8 May elections have been asked to upload all official advertising material used by the party to an online political advert platform.

"This will allow anyone to check whether a poster or digital banner is legitimate or has been digitally altered," she said.

Mamabolo said the system will continue onto the next elections and chances are it would have improved by that the time.

African News Agency (ANA)