SA politician releases ‘secret’ Eskom dossier on Facebook

According to business newspaper Business Report, a Democratic Alliance (DA) politician has released a “secret” document about the country’s main electricity utility via Facebook.

The newspaper is reporting that Pieter van Dalen released the Eskom dossier on his Facebook profile which allegedly contains information around the country’s move to supply below-cost power to its neighbouring states. The move has not been without controversy because South Africa itself is facing electricity supply issues.

Upon closer inspection it appears van Dalen actually released the report on a DA website, but used his Facebook status update to link to it, saying: “What a day. Here is a link to the Secret Eskom Dossier. It is 291 pages long and i put it here for the media that want it.”

At the time of checking, van Dalen’s profile was blocked to all but his 577 friends and his link to the document was only accessible to his “friends”. Not a terribly public move then.

It’s not the first time (and unfortunately not the last) politicans have used Facebook as a politicking tool. All political parties used Facebook and other social media tools with limited success to campaign during the 2009 elections.

Earlier this year there was much hand-wringing about journalism ethics and privacy on social networks when Tokyo Sexwale’s niece landed up in The Citizen newspaper after she mouthed off about the president on Facebook in February.

“Why does our President display such stereotypical bad behaviour of a randy black womaniser?” wrote Kananelo Sexwale after the Jacob Zuma “Babygate” story broke. “I feel ashamed.”

A mini-media storm ensued, with media commentators questioning whether plonking a Facebook comment on to the printed page was ambush journalism and there were arguments for and against the expectations of privacy on social media sites. Sexwale later apologised.

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