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Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act and the Roles of Internet Intermediaries in Regulating Online Falsehoods

Foo Cechao

(2021) 33 SAcLJ 438

This article proposes that intermediaries should adopt proactive roles in regulating online falsehoods. The relevant Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act 2019 (Act 18 of 2019) (“POFMA”) and tort case law are analysed, in so doing illustrating how tort case law has influenced the interpretation of POFMA in terms of (a) distinguishing between facts and opinions; (b) determining the reasonable meaning of the published statement; and (c) determining whether the statement false or misleading. Certain guidelines as informed by the case law are formulated to assist intermediaries. Using these guidelines, a multi-pronged approach is encouraged where intermediaries can collaborate with the governmental authorities and other segments of society in regulating online falsehoods.