POLITICAL NEWS - “Bring back apartheid” and “kill the Economic Freedom Fighters” were just some of the appalling comments in the fake Democratic Alliance (DA) video that went viral on TikTok and left South Africans shocked and scratching their heads.
On Monday, the DA announced the party was officially on TikTok as @Our_DA.
In a video, DA party leader John Steenhuisen said the party opened a TikTok account to push the frontiers in communication and to communicate with more South Africans.
Steenhuisen then said @Our_DA was the party’s official account and urged his followers to ignore the “other fake accounts”.
The DA’s moment was, however, hijacked by a fake account that had a video with defamatory statements and claims such as “kill the EFF”.
The video, which garnered over 300,000 views, has since been removed from the social media platform.
On Tuesday, the DA confirmed that the account was fake and added the video did not represent the views of the party.
“Unfortunately, these are the pitfalls of fake news. We are however not deterred. As a party, we have adapted to this new virtual reality as we demonstrated over the weekend during our Time For Change virtual rally,” Siviwe Gwarube, MP and DA national spokesperson, said.
Gwarube said the party’s social media team reached out to TikTok and the account was subsequently banned.
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said even though the video was fake, it was still worrisome.
“Those who created the fake account probably pose the DA as a party that could return to apartheid, but the DA won’t do that,” Mathekga said.
Mathekga added the public mood was that the DA seems to be moving more towards the right.
“Hence the party has to be worried about this kind of sentiment coming out as a party that is only for white people,” he added.
“It feeds into the view that the DA is moving to the right-wing and so forth. The DA could do without such kind of thinking,” Mathegka added.
Political analyst Daniel Silke said there was no shortage of fake news on social media.
“Certainly, in South Africa, we have seen we are not alone in this kind of thing. This is simply some sort of joke that was potentially made to undermine a certain political party,” Silke said.
He said the same could have easily been done with the ANC or the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
Silke said we were likely to see an increase in social media-driven material as we move towards the local government elections in October
“There will be a lot of these attempts to undermine political parties but there is nothing unusual about this,” Silke said.
He said fake news was getting more sophisticated because people could make their videos resemble a legitimate news report.
“To what degree should social media be regulated to avoid inflaming tensions or passions?” Silke asked.
Silke warned South Africans to be careful because the population had become politically polarised.
“There is a danger that South Africans will become less tolerant of one another as they become more concerned about their own future,” Silke said.