South Africa’s last general election was in 2019, and back then Artificial Intelligence (AI) wasn’t as big as it is now. TikTok had just launched in 2016,   while Instagram, Facebook and the good old legacy news business prevailed. 

This time around, things have changed and there are many different avenues to access information ahead of elections thanks to  innovations like AI. Audiences have become more empowered to test, critic and analyse the information that’s out there because they’ve become more aware of disinformation and misinformation as well as increasing incidence of scams. They’re also becoming more sceptical about WhatsApp.  Despite the seemingly desperate situation regarding truth and news, there are still trusted resources available. 

By now most journalists are aware of  fact checking and verification portals, and most are also highly suspicious about claims put out by politicians and their supporters. However the ground remains fertile for bad players to peddle false information. It’s more dangerous now because citizens who have not yet decided who to vote for are scrambling for information before they make their mark in South Africa’s elections on  Wednesday 29 May. The last ditch push for the latest information comes as the country faces its most heavily contested and some say, crucial election. 

The advent of things like artificial intelligence and TikTok are both good and bad. Because while they provide greater access to information, they’re also another avenue for people to abuse the concept of the dispersal of information rapidly. 

To avoid this, the trusted Africa Check remains at your disposal. Through its recently launched Election Information Hub, it gives fatigued journalists and information-hungry citizens access to information that they definitely need to know during this crucial time. 

According to Biz Community analysis, the Election Information Hub focuses on claims made by the ANC, DA and EFF. The Hub has also critiqued previous election promises made by the ruling ANC, and outlines how many of these have not been met. 

Africa Check has made a name for itself across the globe by testing statements and information by public and other officials against the truth. Furthermore, The Election Information Hub was developed by South African marketing agency Rogerwilco using AI.

Rogerwilco’s creative director, Wilton Ackeer said they wanted to bring in an artificial intelligence component because of the abuse of AI and technology in general and the rise of misinformation in election campaigns globally. 

“Our intent was to demonstrate that, when used effectively and with purpose, artificial intelligence can be an asset in sorting fact from fiction,” he said. 

Adding “innovation is essential to get attention in a crowded media landscape. Helping clients do clever things like this enables them to meet consumers where they are and when needed. Capturing the zeitgeist is the particular skill of digital agencies, and this is increasingly the sort of service clients need.”

With that, it provides journalists with greater options to get the right information and provides an option for them to submit a claim that needs to be fact checked. 

Do your homework properly before you head to the polls, and happy voting!