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Candice Chirwa Zimkhitha Manyana

Abstract

Scholarly research has shown that the role of media and information (a crucial variable in the success of democracy) has been eroded by misinformation, propaganda, and controversy. This paper observes that social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are critical agents for disseminating news from various news outlets, including the spreading of popular opinion on political discourse. In hindsight, these platforms inform the basis of true freedom of speech, freedom of information, and political participation. However, influential political leaders, such as former United States president Donald Trump, have abused this privilege by pronouncing unfiltered ‘fake news’ that have led to topical incidences such as the invasion of the Capitol. Terrorist groups have turned what could have been an activist and liberation platform (considering the online Arab spring revolution) into a mechanism to conduct propaganda and recruitment campaigns. This article aims to explain ‘fake news’ and the effects it can have on democratic society post-Covid-19. The research was conducted by gathering data from popular press outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, BBC News, CNN, and BuzzFeed. It considers some solutions to mitigate fake news: critical to these is the need for a well-informed society to distinguish facts from falsities and ambiguities. This paper also argues for improving fact-check initiatives in global social networks and for a change in social media value systems from being content- to quality-based.

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Peer Review