Women's Forum Global Meeting 2022


Phumzile Van Damme


Award Winning Anti Electoral Disinformation and Platform Integrity Activist


Phumzile Van Damme is an anti-electoral disinformation and platform accountability expert. An activist on these subjects, she serves on boards and advisory councils of organisations dedicated to fighting disinformation and online violence against women and holding social media companies for harms emanating from their platforms - Real Facebook Oversight Board, #ShePersisted and the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online harassment and Abuse. Van Damme founded and coordinated South Africa’s first electoral disinformation monitoring project. Its purpose was not only to monitor and combat misinformation but also to understand its causes using behavioural science, engage in advocacy against social media platforms and provide solutions for tackling it in the long term. She is currently expanding her work to include elections around the African continent and aims to roll out similar programmes for the 2023 elections in Zimbabwe, eSwatini and Liberia. A former Member of Parliament in South Africa, Van Damme served on the Communications and Digital Technologies committee as Shadow Minister and a National Assembly Whip. Amongst other achievements, she played a pivotal role in holding social media platforms accountable for misinformation on their platforms and spearheaded the summoning of Facebook and other tech giants to Parliament, a first in Africa. She took a principled stand and resigned from Parliament following her party’s refusal for her to continue pushing for summoning the tech giants to the South African Parliament. She refused to turn a blind eye and instead chose to join the global fight, collaborating with academics, journalists, regulators, and others to ensure platform accountability. Van Damme’s fire foray into the fight against disinformation was featured in the documentary “Influence,” which charted the rise and fall of controversial global PR firm Bell Pottinger and her role in bringing it to justice resulting in its ultimate demise. The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2020. In the same year, Van Damme was invited to join the International Grand Committee on Disinformation, an international array of legislators, policy advisors, and other experts who work together to forge global alliances that bring shared, effective strategies into the battle against online disinformation, hate speech, and electoral interference. She has spoken on various platforms about disinformation, including at the UNDP, the UN Commission on the Status of Women and Stanford University. Van Damme’s achievements have not gone unnoticed, and she has received many accolades for her work. Recently she was awarded the prestigious 2022 Vital Voices Global Leadership Award for her work on electoral disinformation and holding social media platforms accountable. Her other achievements and accolades include: - Forbes Magazine Top 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa - 2013 Mail and Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans - 2019/20 Vital Voices fellowship. - 2021/Munich Security Conference Young Leader

Session featuring this Speaker

Find here the list of the session featuring this speaker!