Tech Thursday: SA government is considering regulating social media

Mahlobo was answering a reporter’s question on fake news at a press briefing by the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS).

He said that social media was being abused and used to peddle false information aside from what it was meant to be used for. He also said that South Africa was not the only country that had this problem: “We are contemplating to regulate the space. Even the best democracies that are revered, they regulate the space.”

Mahlobo said he understood that regulating social media could be seen as “interfering with human rights” and that the ANC would have to meet with various bodies and forums to discuss the matter further. “We will be discussing how we regulate it,” he said.

Besides misrepresentation and fake news, Mahlobo also said that another problem was images photoshopped to portray false acts.

Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) director William Bird told EWN that the possible regulation of social media would undermine democracy and that the move was disturbing.

MMA is currently looking at ways to tackle false news websites, which are on the increase.

Some countries that have regulated social media:


In February 2016 Uganda held their general elections and much to people’s dismay, social media platforms had been disabled by the Uganda Communications Commission in collaboration with all the telecommunications companies in Uganda. People needed to download a special code to access their social media.


In May 2016, Vietnam had blocked its citizens from accessing Facebook during President Barack Obama’s visit to the country in order to silence human rights activists.


It’s common knowledge that China has gone out of its way to censor social media. The country has employed millions of people to censor online media and even has an anthem dedicated to internet censorship.


Bangladesh temporarily blocked social media including Facebook in 2015.  The government cut off internet access following its Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the death sentence of two men convicted of war crimes.


In 2009, Iran blocked Facebook, Twitter and YouTube after its citizens used Twitter to organise protests in dispute of the country’s presidential elections.

North Korea

The North Korean government officially banned Facebook, YouTube and Twitter in April 2016. As it stands, very few of the country’s citizens have Internet access, they are only able to see a government-sanctioned intranet.




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