Locals band together to shut down Gupta-linked web platforms

2017-07-17 12:09 - Kyle Venktess, Fin24
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Oakbay chair Atul Gupta and President Jacob Zuma (Photo: GCIS)

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Johannesburg - The banding together of South Africans to shut down Gupta-linked websites and social media platforms signals a strong community focus reminiscent of the inception of the internet in the country, according to World Wide Worx founder and internet expert Arthur Goldstuck. 

Most recently the Sunday Times reported that Martin Peake, who grew up in South Africa but currently resides in the United Kingdom, began a campaign which resulted in the shutdown of Gupta-linked website www.blackopinion.co.za.

The website was reportedly linked to the Black First Land First group, and included Gupta-linked stories attacking white monopoly capital.

The site was suspended by the Internet Service Providers Association on Friday.

Goldstuck said it is difficult to shut down a website just for being linked to the Guptas. 

“When an internet regulatory body is in place, it is easier to suspend websites especially when they have a ‘.co.za’ domain, whereas with a ‘.com’ domain, a court order needs to be submitted to an international body,” Goldstuck said. 

Local Twitter users also caused havoc for the controversial family on the social media platform, by complaining to Twitter about pro-Gupta fake accounts and anti-white monopoly capital comments linked to the Guptas. 

South Africans forced the Guptas' spin agency, UK-based Bell Pottinger, to lock its official account after receiving a backlash from locals on Twitter. 

“In recent years we saw the loss of the strong community focus that the internet had when it was first used in the country; what we are seeing now is the reclaim of the sense of community,” Goldstuck told Fin24. 

He added it was surprising to see that pro-Gupta campaigns - even those by Bell Pottinger - were not run professionally.

“Websites that run hate speech violate terms and conditions set by hosting companies and of course are shut down or suspended. The level of amateurism in pro-Gupta campaigns, even from Bell Pottinger, while they might have been effective in some cases, is evident,” Goldstuck said. 

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