In mid-2017, two teachers from Durban’s KwaMashu informal settlement were forced to hide from their own community after social media posts were shared, accusing them of trading in body parts. Their pictures were posted alongside those of human body parts, and the text made it clear that these were the people responsible. The posts were false, and the originator of the claims unknown.
This came hot on the heels of acts of xenophobic violence in the same informal settlement, prompted by viral posts claiming that foreign nationals were responsible for abducting children in the community. This too, was based on fabricated stories, or “fake news”.
The term fake news has surged in recent years. Prior to November 2016, the terms hovered at an interest score of between three and six on Google’s search trends