Following a hoax news article stating that President Donald Trump waivered visa requirements for South Africans travelling to the USA to strengthen ties between the two countries, the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) is requesting that consumers verify facts about travel that they read on social media and online.
“This is a fake report: nothing has changed in terms of visa requirements for South Africans travelling to the United States,” a spokesperson for the US Consulate told ASATA.
The fake news website where the article was originally published - www.USA-Television.com - also states that Mauritius was shamed as the most unfriendly country in the world by the World Tourism Organisation and that Ethiopia has banned all marriages until 2018. Needless to say, neither of these articles is true.
Numerous ‘fake’ news articles have circulated over the past few months. The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) last year even issued an alert to readers to beware “an alarming trend by fake news websites to publish inaccurate information under the guise of news”.
Says ASATA CEO Otto de Vries: “There are ways in which to spot whether a story is fake from the outset and we would advise travellers to use these tried and trusted methods before assuming that the report they have read is true.”
Here are some tips consumers should use to verify if the travel news they are reading is legitimate:
1. Check the URL to see if it matches the news service and is not a variation thereof, e.g. businessday.com.co or bus1nessday.co.za
2. Read the About Us to see if it is a legitimate news service.
3. Look for quotes in a story. Any legitimate news story worth its salt will provide different perspectives and hence a diversity of quotes. Google the names of these individuals to see if they are real.
4. Look at the comments that are associated with the story. If you can see a thread of comments from readers disputing or questioning the content, take note.
5. Look at the website advertising. Is it promoting legitimate companies?
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