Malawi government on Sunday was duped into believing a story that transpired to be fake news generated on social media.
The initial statement issued by Minister of Information, Communication and Technology Nicholous Dausi said the government was rejecting “lies” in a story by Nyasa Times that Mutharika does not want to be like Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, by remaining in office beyond the limit of two terms that the Constitution of Republic of Malawi requires.
However, Nyasa Times did not carry such a story. Instead, it was an article which spread on Facebook by fake news claiming the source was Nyasa Times.
“Malawi has no business to dictate to the people of Zimbabwe how they should conduct their affairs. The people of Malawi and those of Zimbabwe are assured that the Government of Malawi remains resolute to its policy of not interfering in internal matters of other countries,” Minister of information Dausi said in the statement.
Dausi, who is government spokesman, said authorities are aware that the opposition parties in Malawi are running a “desperate campaign to tell lies against the President and his administration in order to create chaos in the country and abhorrence in the international community because they know that they have no credible strategy for winning the 2019 elections.”
After being fact-checked, it quickly became apparent that the story was almost entirely fabricated.
Meanwhile, government has confirmed the report was not from Nyasa Times but fake news content on Facebook.
Facebook recently announced it is to add features advising users how to spot fake news.
The social network has said it will advise users to “be sceptical of headlines” and to check sources before believing a story.
The social media giant has been heavily criticised for its handling of fake news and is tackling the problem of fake news .