Tanya Smit… the fake racist created for controversy uncovered.
Photo Cred: Tanya Smit Facebook Screengrab

A fake racist profile thought to be propaganda has gone viral but instead of making South Africans fight, its brought them together!

 

Cape Town, South Africa – (4 August 2016) – A profile that was called “Tanya Smit” wrote an obscure, controversial post that quickly got South Africa heated on election counting afternoon. The post was being shared thousands of times before speculation weighed in closer to the truth that the account was actually a fake profile, used to create chaos and disorder.

All the “friends” that were on the account had no idea who she was or how they were connected. They didn’t even know how they had become friends with her.

The account posted an incredibly racist remark which sent South Africans from all walks of life into disgust, not at the remarks but at the fact that someone had created a fake profile to maliciously cause anger.

Apparently, the IP address that was connected to the account is in London, which is nowhere near “Tanya’s” said Cape Town home town.

The profile was quickly deleted but something amazing remained.

All races, belonging to all political parties felt the same & voiced their opinion… South Africans will not stand for racism, no matter who it comes from or who it is directed too.

Tanya Smit

After the post went viral, people started questioning whether the profile was actually real… as there was just too much that seemed out-of-the-ordinary.

Kyale Boatwright wrote “It’s a fake account! It was created by a guy by the name of Siphe Mzaidume! They traced the I.P address”

Norbert Fuhr agreed “I saw that too .. i dont think she is real .. i personally think its a fake profile .. none the less i’ve reported her to my mates on the Budget/Avis Executive Board .. they are already investigating”

Grant Harris stated “It’s a fake account, someone born in 1991. And looks like that and has no photos the accounts fake don’t waste your time with this shit”

Jason Karem made a valid point “We all need to widen up. There’s 100s of these mofos out there that creep onto our profiles. We wouldn’t let them in our houses so why on our Facebooks? Could be a violent criminal. The point with this fake one is I have reason to believe it’s an ANC guerrilla campaign”

Kyale Boatwright “It was shared by person named Ncediwe Deejay Linc from JHB. I’m just making people aware so that there is no social rejection against the elections an the results. Racism is at such a high and if the youth can help I think we should all be heard and stand up against racism so we ALL have a future in S.A”

But it gets even more interesting…

There was only really one person that “Tanya Smit” interacted with since her profile was created in February 2016 – Siphe Mzaidume – who’s profile has also disappeared since yesterday.

Siphe Mzaidume is a name you should all be familiar with.

He is the cricketer that dupped international media into believing that he had been awarded a contract to play overseas… only to find out he hadn’t even played in provisional cricket in South Africa.

“Mzaidume’s story very quickly stopped being about transformation and turned into something a little bit more peculiar. With a little bit of digging, it became quite apparent that not only is he a very average cricketer, he’s also prone to tall tales.

There were the team members at the Irish club he played for who revealed that he was fired after four games for not being as good as he claimed he was.

There was Kevin Pietersen’s spokesperson who confirmed that he’d never heard of Mzaidume and had never given him advice, despite his claims to the contrary.

The list of false claims goes on, but the hole also gets deeper.”

Mzaidume went from a cricket scandal in the news… to being the guy that has a habit of creating fake profiles.

Loads of them.

The daily Maverick wrote an incredible article about one of Mzaidume first times he got caught out…

“A number of his teammates claimed that he was busted for creating fake Facebook accounts to talk himself up. One of them, according to those in the know, is Kate Brezie Bresnan, somebody seemingly pretending to be related to English cricketer Tim Bresnan. Kate curiously hails from Northampton (where Mzaidume started his cricket career). Yet the Bresnan family is from Yorkshire.”

The story is being investigated but it seems that the posts which were meant to create controversy may even have had fake accounts interact with each other to “stir the pot” even more.

“JJ Dippenaar” commented on most of the “Tanya Smit” posts with vulgar, racist provocation but a little digging revealed that his profile had only been created in May 2016 and all three profiles shared the same friends.

As the last blow, the company listed on “Tanya Smit” – Budget Car Rental – have released a statement as they have no idea who she is & no record of her working for them.

“Budget Car Rental The company maintains a strict zero tolerance policy towards discrimination. We do not condone or support the comments this individual makes on her own personal site and such comments should in no way be construed as to be the position or view of Budget.

Additionally, please note Budget South Africa has confirmed that Tanya Smit is not an employee of Budget.”

An online witch-hunt has started to find the culprits who created the fake profile & many users have started questioning the Penny Sparrow profile too…

Bryan Jacobs “Maybe all of these absurd posts are fake. I mean, who actually talks like that, let alone puts it online for everyone to see. We need to stop these stupid people from trying to make us fight with each other?”

Nthombi Baleka wrote “Guys, this is not the South Africa for us… it seems as though all these racist posts are just part of a bigger political thang trying to make us angry with each other. What if Penny Sparrow is fake too!”

More than that, the online community are doing the opposite of what the post intended… they are coming together to unearth the truth & make sure that everyone is aware that fake profiles like this exist.

“Don’t fall for it… they are only used to manipulate South Africans into unnecessarily fighting with each other & we’re all brighter than that.”

How to spot Fake accounts on social media

Facebook is full of fake accounts created for the sole purpose of spamming, tagging people in adverts, tricking them into giving money or creating division. Facebook has also given some guidelines as to how we can spot fake accounts.

1. Names

They are the first thing you should look at, and very often they can already give you some hints.

Names which are characteristic of fake accounts:

  • combinations of most popular names + surnames, for example:
    John, Sam, Rachel + Miller, Taylor, Brown (this is also true for other languages, not only English)
  • names (or variations thereof) of famous people, politicians, for example:
    Margaret Clinton, Edward Obama, (again, the same for countries other than US/UK)
  • names which may suggest that the person has something to do with Facebook (for example, Facebook Tom)

2. Profile Pictures (and also cover photo)

Those can also help you a lot in the process of identifying fake accounts.

Profile pictures typical for fake accounts:

  • photos of MODELS/pictures of young, dynamic, healthy individuals (this is done to attract others obviously)
  • photos of just one person usually
  • the only aim of the profile picture is to show the person who is supposedly the owner of the account, no abstract things, paintings, cartoon characters and pets will be present
  • photos which are very well done from the technical standpoint (most regular people will just have a badly done photo by a generic camera at some family party, not a professional photoshoot)
  • photos in which people are wearing military uniforms (this may be a part of the “general scam”)
  • photos in which people are wearing extremely luxurious tuxedos (this is usually used to pretend to be a businessman of some kind to steal money from people)
  • photos of the supposed owner of the account shaking hands with some other businessman (cover photo – makes the person more legitimate as a businessman)
  • in general, the photos do not give the impression they were casually taken during everyday life or holiday trip

Profile pictures typical for REAL accounts (In general, the opposites of the above):

  • casually taken photos, without great technical detail
  • photos from family gatherings
  • photos with friends/wife/husband/kids
  • people without lots of makeup in an everyday situation
  • older, less fashionable, averages dudes/dudettes
  • some people seem to be tired of life
  • presence of animals, tv show characters, cartoons, abstract paintings etc.
  • sometimes real account will also use photos of models, which may cause some confusion

3. Shared Content

  • Typical characteristics for fake accounts when it comes to the things they have on their walls:
  • recent date of creation of the account (most of them will have it hidden though)
  • almost no content shared
  • shared fake content, which is supposed to make it look more believable –this is typical strictly for the fake accounts, they will have lots of mutual friends with the same name and comment on each other’s pictures to make it look legitimate. The pictures shared on their walls again, look to well-done to be real, and the comments are often too polite and artificial, not what you would expect from people close to each other.
  • the ‘businessmen’ will have things connected to their scams on their wall, sometimes loan offers, sometimes sob stories about them losing both legs and needing money

4. Mutual Friends

Always check the number of mutuals, fake accounts will usually have a lower number of those, but then again, it’s not 100% accurate because once some people start adding the fake account, others might believe it’s a legit account due to there being mutual friends.

5. Chaos and disorder created by HATE

A consequence of fighting online hate is that Facebook pages and groups often get attacked by trolls. Some are looking to waste time by flooding a conversation with irrelevant content while others post unnecessarily incendiary content with the aim of derailing a fruitful conversation. More often than not, the accounts are fake or made to cause trouble.

Bear in mind that the presence of one, or more of these, DOES NOT have to mean someone’s account is fake. The purpose of these points is to make you aware of those characteristics and just a bit more cautious, it shouldn’t motivate you to go on a manhunt and friend-removing rampage.


Sources: Daily Maverick | eNCA | Facebook
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Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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