South Africa’s News 24 fell for a fake Twitter account posing as the fiancee of former president Jacob Zuma.
News 24 admitted it failed to fact check. After a complaint by Zuma’s fiancee, Nonkanyiso Conco, the site unpublished its article and social media posts related to the story.
According to a cache of the original article, before it was unpublished, the article reported that a Twitter account @MrsConcoZuma was set up in early January with a first tweet reading: “Good morning South Africa on behalf of Zuma family we wish you a prosperous 2019, this year it’s a game changer for us as me and hubby we are on this platform #ngiyabonga. pic.twitter.com/YfF0AUiG7d”
The fake Twitter account in question was suspended when iMediaEthics checked Jan. 11. iMediaEthics has written to News 24 to ask how long the story was published before it was corrected and what verification steps it took.
In a Jan. 11 apology, News 24 wrote:
“Earlier this week News24 published a story about a Twitter account purportedly belonging to Nonkanyiso Conco, former president Jacob Zuma’s fiancée and the mother of his youngest son.
“In compiling the story, we did not verify the authenticity of the account with Conco before publication.
Conco contacted News24 to inform us that the Twitter account was not hers and was fake. We immediately updated the story.
News24 apologises unreservedly to Conco for the inconvenience caused. This was an oversight on our part and we should have solicited Conco’s comment before running the story.
We have removed the article from our archives and also deleted all social media posts reflecting the incorrect information.”