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News

  • #SocialMediaBlackOut: South Africa, here’s everything you need to know

    If you were scrolling through your Twitter timeline Monday, you might've noticed the hashtag #SocialMediaBlackOut out the corner of your eye. Don't worry though. It isn't some death knell for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram -- they're probably still function as per normal come Wednesday. But there might be considerably fewer users from South Africa on them if the hashtag's primary narrative is to be believed. What is #SocialMediaBlackOut? The thought of one might strike fear into amateur breakfast photographers, but the content isn't the reason for the campaign. It's largely how South Africans access said content. #SocialMediaBlackOut can be seen as a spinoff...

  • #TaxiStrike: Johannesburg, Pretoria traffic disrupted by striking taxi operators

    If you're in Johannesburg, Pretoria or surrounds today, you might want to stay at home. Or at the very least, avoid major highways. Santaco (South African National Taxi Council) members have hit the roads with strike action in mind. From as early as 3.30am Thursday morning, members parked their vehicles in key intersections on major arterial routes across the province. The strike's reportedly in response to high interest rates and steep repayments taxi operators are required to pay to the SA Taxi Finance company. Some of the routes most affected includes the N1 in Midrand and the R21 in Kempton Park leading...

  • Donald Trump’s birthday on Twitter is surreal hell

    If you were interested in reading the US President's statements on a shooting involving US Congressmen yesterday, chances are you went to Twitter first. Of course, you likely got just what you'd expected: a half-hearted tweet by Donald Trump that promised only 'thoughts and prayers' followed by a barrage of partisan views chucking useless words at a brick wall. This activity -- of checking, of regretting, of burying your phone beside an old oak tree -- has become near routine. It's like a recurring nightmare or a stint in a hell -- except this time, Satan has upped the ante. Because yesterday...

  • Cape Town dam levels rise after storm, but nowhere near enough

    Great news, Cape Town. Your major dam levels have finally seen an increase week-over-week, albeit a tiny one. After Wednesday's punchy cold front and the weekend's steady rainfall experienced across the city, water levels in all six major dams have seen a slight buff. The Theewaterskloof Dam for instance -- the city's biggest reservoir -- is now at 15.3% capacity, up from last week's 13.6%. The Berg River Dam is up from 30.4% to 32.2%. Additionally, the Voelvlei Dam's level showed an increase too, but only by 0.4% to 16.6%. Image: City of Cape Town Weekly Water Dashboard report, 12 June 2017 Both Steenbras reservoirs...

  • Update: London suffers another disaster as #GrenfellTower burns

    Update, 12.40pm SAST: London's Metropolitan Police has confirmed that at least six people have died in the blaze that swept through North Kensington's Grenfell Tower Wednesday morning. "I can confirm six fatalities at this time but this figure is likely to rise during what is a complex recovery operation over a number of days," commander Stuart Cundy explains in a press release. Latest statement re fire at #GrenfellTower. Call Casualty Bureau if concerned about a loved one or if they've been found safe 0800 0961 233 pic.twitter.com/UvM41bFiuO — Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) June 14, 2017 Original article: Hashtags #LondonFire, #GrenfellTower and #NorthKensington were trending...

  • Cape Town Railway Station trends on Twitter after riot, train fire

    Update #2, 10.40pm: Cape Town's Metrorail service again took to Twitter suggesting that it cannot at present confirm how the train fire will affect Tuesday's commute. "Too early to predict service changes. MorningPeak service advisory at 04:30 tomorrow morning," it wrote. Too early to predict service changes. MorningPeak service advisory at 04:30 tomorrow morning — Metrorail W/Cape (@CapeTownTrains) June 12, 2017 Update #1, 10pm: Cape Town's Metrorail service has now issued an update via the Metrorail Western Cape Twitter account. "Problems with Metrorail electrical power feeds were responsible for major delays experienced this afternoon," reads the statement. "Teams if technicians are currently working across the...

  • Winter in the Western Cape: Instagram laced with weekend snow pictures

    Last week's cold front brought some extreme weather to South Africa's Western Cape. Along with driving rain and gale-force winds in Cape Town, it also drove hot berg winds to the Garden Route, which fuelled the catastrophic Knysna fire. While the latter is now largely under control, there was another weather phenomenon that some took the time to capture with their smartphones and upload online -- snow. People are uploading their weekend snow adventure pictures in the Western Cape on Instagram The Western Cape's higher peaks this weekend -- including the Matroosberg, the Hottentots-Holland and the Hex River Mountains -- were laced...

  • YouTube videos capture devastation of Cape Town storm, Knysna fire

    We use the likes of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook extensively when covering stories across South Africa, but when the Cape Town storm rolled across the peninsula this week, citizens took to YouTube to upload their clips. Although some of the videos were hoaxes, clearly edited to incite viral reactions from those all too eager to hit like and retweet buttons, other videos were genuine. And genuinely scary. At the time of writing, nine of the top 12 trending videos on YouTube in South Africa is related to the Cape Town storm or Knysna fires. Read more: Memeburn's in-depth coverage of the #CapeStorm and...

  • GoFundMe campaign for Knysna Fire relief smashes crowdfunding goal

    A GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign created to help the victims of the Knysna fires has raised three-times its goal amount in a single day. The fund, started by Knysna resident Natalie Grundlingh, was initially set with a £5 000 goal on the crowdfunding site, but in less than 36 hours more than £15 000 has been raised from around 300 donations. GoFundMe has also marked the campaign as "trending". Read more: Memeburn's coverage of the #CapeStorm and #KnysnaFire The Knysna Fire swept through the Southern Cape district on Wednesday, ahead of the intense cold front that lashed Cape Town, killing five people and...

  • Corbyn vs May vs Twitter: UK elects a hung parliament, the internet reacts

    Yesterday, the United Kingdom voted in their snap election called for by Prime Minister Theresa May. May, who was hoping to increase her Conservative Party's majority in the House of Commons, has seen the opposite take effect and the UK are now looking at a hung parliament. Their biggest opposition, the Labour Party, has gained 29 seats, assuring that the Conservatives do not have a house majority despite their lead. This could lead to May's resignation. Naturally, the liberal-leaning Twittersphere took to this news quite well. When the Brexit clock is ticking, you blow £143000000 of taxpayer money on a snap election after years of austerity,...

  • #KnysnaFire: locals turn to Facebook, WhatsApp for help

    Social media, for all its pitfalls and swathe of untruths, is seemingly the best way to keep abreast of new information emanating from a disaster. Take the #CapeStorm and more recently the #KnysnaFire for instance. Read more: Memeburn's ongoing coverage for the Cape Town storm and Knysna Fire The fire, which ravaged areas around the town of 70 000 people, is now heading towards Plettenberg Bay, the Eden District Municipality announced on a Facebook post Thursday morning. "Knysna looks much better, but our new high risk area would be the Bitou area. Currently people in Harkerville , portion of Kranshoek and by...

  • Cape Town brands look to profit off hashtags #CapeStorm and #KnysnaFire

    With every tragedy comes an outpouring of love and support from social media. Thoughts, prayers and tangible help are all offered to those in need. But with the good comes the bad too, and businesses and social media opportunists often look to cash in on destruction with profit and likes. These users take a hashtag, which others can view for information on events or for calls to action, and use it for their own personal gain, disregarding lives lost or homes destroyed. Take, for instance, this Instagram post using the topical #CapeStorm. Happy Thursday!!! Hope you have a good one and that...

  • Trump may face legal action for blocking people on Twitter

    US attorneys have sent US President Donald Trump a letter claiming that by blocking his citizens on Twitter he is violating their First Amendment right to free speech. The letter accuses Trump of blocking people because they either mocked or disagreed with him, which the Knight First Amendment Institute deems unconstitutional. "This Twitter account operates as a 'designated public forum' for First Amendment purposes, and accordingly the viewpoint-based blocking of our clients is unconstitutional. We ask that you unblock them and any others who have been blocked for similar reasons," the letter reads. One of The Knight First Amendment Institute's clients...

  • Knysna Fire: another Western Cape disaster trends on social media

    Knysna, a town situated on the Garden Route approximately 420km east of Cape Town, is battling a huge blaze sweeping across dense indigenous forest. The fire escalated in the early hours of Wednesday, largely fueled by gale force winds ahead of Cape Town's current storm system. Read more: Memeburn's ongoing coverage of Cape Town's winter storm As a result of the blaze, national roads have been closed with three deaths also reported in the region. Knysna's Eden District Municipality declared that "various fires are out of control" in a statement on Wednesday. While Twitter for much of today featured #CapeStorm as the top trending...

  • Tornadoes and Katrina: the totally fake news from Cape Town’s storm

    If you're reading this piece, good for you. It means that you're actively searching for the truth among the steaming pile of manure that is "fact" on social media. There have been a number of fake images and videos circulating on social media during the intense cold front currently lashing Cape Town and surrounds. Thanks to swelling public interactions, they've also gone viral. And that's not a good thing. Considering the severity of the storm -- the fact that people are now homeless in the likes of Imizamo Yethu, Khayelitsha and Mfuleni -- should be more than enough reason for people...