It looks like a news website. It has headlines, blurbs of text and even a news ticker (that bar that runs across TV and computer screens with the latest news).
But it’s really a place where many South Africans are being trolled.
City Sun published its first post in June 2015. It’s survived for more than a year, spinning articles that are little more than, well, spin. It’s unknown who owns the website – it’s located on a proxy server that makes the site owner difficult to trace – and the only author is the mysterious “citysun”.
The first piece to go up on the site is a clickbaity titled “Trevor Noah defends corruption in SA” – newsflash: he hasn’t. Most of what follows is a stream of some ANC praise, a little DA side-eye and some hearty EFF throwdowns.
It’s not all fake news, though. One post deals with a racist incident in Boksburg in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng where a white man assaulted a black man and pointed a gun at him, after he accidentally bumped into the white driver’s car. The story was circulated on other news websites with photographs.
So, here’s what we’ve figured out about City Sun so far:
It likes to throw shade at white people.
Like the story about white Democratic Alliance (DA) supporters threatening DA leader Mmusi Maimane if he chats with the EFF about coalitions.
It doesn’t like the DA.
It’s probably the only website that has posted about the DA losing out in local government elections, when the rest of South Africa has been blinking at their screens, watching the party gain power in metropolitans.
It also reported that the DA would cut free wi-fi in townships around Nelson Mandela Bay. The post was published before the party even officially won the municipality, although it states that the DA had already won the most votes.
It also doesn’t like the EFF.
In fact it published one real piece about the EFF, and that was Andile Mngxitama’s letter to the EFF, telling them to steer clear of making deals with the DA in coalition season.
Others have been posts about how the EFF would report Baleka Mbete, speaker of the National Assembly, to its wealthy funders, Nathan Kirsch and Lord Robin Renwick. (There’s been speculation that the party received funding from Kirsch, but these have been unfounded.
It loves the ANC.
With headlines like “Election results 2016 – ANC wins elections in final polls” and “S&P rating agency commends ANC government On Eskom”, the site clearly has a good story to tell (heh heh heh). There’s very little criticism of the ruling party, but a whole lot of praise.
Humour aside, fakes news sites have been lambasted recently in official news media and even by the Independent Electoral Commission, who condemned the spread of misinformation and hoax news. Experts have said that high traffic is what gets these news sites flowing with sensational and fake news.
“Attention leads to traffic, which potentially leads to advertising. The danger is that some of the fake news reports can go viral through a few gullible individuals falling for them and spreading them via social media,” Arthur Goldstuck, CEO of World Wide Worx, told the Sunday Times.
The lesson: don’t always believe the hype.