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No, South Africa’s electoral commission not advertising jobs on Facebook

IN SHORT: With South African general elections around the corner, a myriad of Facebook posts are claiming to advertise jobs at the country’s electoral commission. But these are scams and a threat to desperate job seekers.

A Facebook page called iec is opened for applications is sharing vacancies at South Africa’s Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC).  

The IEC is constitutionally mandated to conduct and oversee elections in South Africa.

This is not the only Facebook page advertising jobs supposedly at the IEC. A similar ad was posted by a page called Jobs, Learnerships, Internships and Bursaries, which describes itself as a government website and uses the South African coat of arms as its profile picture. Africa Check debunked a Facebook page operating under the same name as long ago as November 2020.  

Around election season, there is often an increase in misinformation. Facebook pages falsely claiming to be associated with legitimate institutions can fuel this problem. 

The typical ad promises salaries of between R5,800 and R10,000 per month and says that no education is required for the positions. 

But is the IEC really hiring?

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IEC vacancies are centralised

Africa Check asked the IEC about the job ads. Moagisi Sibanda, general manager for civic and democracy education, research and knowledge management, said: “I am not aware that we would have such a page as we centralise all our communications to either our website or official social media accounts which are not fragmented.”

These pages do not link to the IEC’s official jobs portal. Instead, applicants are redirected to a site that asks them to submit their CVs. The link in this post is to a list of vacancies at various companies, including South Africa’s state-owned infrastructure company Transnet and local shoe retailer Tekkie Town.

We checked Transnet’s official vacancies page and found no opening for “general workers”, as listed on the suspicious website. We did find similar accounts all over Facebook, some advertising restaurant jobs that are not shown on the restaurants’ official websites, while other pages claim to be for legitimate companies such as South African Breweries (SAB)

What these pages all have in common is that they do not redirect you to the companies’ official websites or vacancies pages. This is a red flag, as most large companies list openings on a dedicated site, like SAB’s human resources site.

No-fees disclaimer

Many legitimate companies and organisations include a disclaimer in their job ads, explicitly stating that they don’t require applicants to pay an application fee.

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This is to protect job seekers from employment scams. However, many scam job posts on social media now include a similar disclaimer, which may lead applicants to think the ads are legitimate.

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The cost of compromised personal data

While losing money to job scams is a serious risk, usually by paying a fee to “apply” for a non-existent job, data-related scams also have negative consequences.

A CV or resume usually contains personal information, such as a job seeker’s residential address, identity number and phone number. In 2021, South Africa’s tax revenue collecting agency, the South African Revenue Services warned the public that scammers could file for and receive your tax returns or commit crimes using your name and identity number.

Much of the personal information in a CV can also be used as an additional security measure, for example, as a means for recovering an account on banking apps, email, and other systems that contain important information. This could give scammers access to many more details about you and provide more opportunities for them to steal from you and set up accounts in your name.

The vulnerable unemployed

Accounts and groups posting fake job advertisements on Facebook are likely to attract unemployed people who are desperate for work.

According to Statistics South Africa’s latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey, which covered the period between January and March 2024, of the 41.2 million people in South Africa of working age (between 15 and 64 years old), 32.9% were unemployed. This is 8.2 million people.

Younger people continue to have the highest unemployment rates, with 59.7% of those between 15 and 24 unemployed, and 40.7% of those from 25 to 34. 

Of all the Facebook users in South Africa, those aged 18 to 34 make up the largest group, according to NapoleonCat, a social media management tool which sources data “directly from the respective social platforms marketing APIs [application programming interfaces]”. Young people looking for work opportunities on the platform may be more susceptible to sending personal information, out of the pressing need to find work. 

In 2022, South Africa’s labour department and the country’s Unemployment Insurance Fund warned job seekers not to share personal data, particularly not ID numbers, to suspicious job portals.

In response to the Facebook posts in question, some users shared their cellphone numbers, which could be dangerous.

Protecting your personal information

It is important to verify the legitimacy of pages claiming to advertise jobs, particularly on social media. This page differs from the official IEC page in various ways:

  1. The account has a grammatical error in its name and its posts are riddled with spelling errors. Legitimate organisations usually have editing processes for social media posts.
  2. The account has a default URL – the web address that appears in the search bar of your internet browser – while the IEC’s account uses a personalised one.
  3. Most legitimate businesses and organisations have accounts that are verified by Facebook, which is indicated by a blue tick next to their username. This is not always the case, however, so it’s safest to access a company’s social media accounts via its official website.
  4. The intro sections of the Facebook pages give conflicting information. The intro box of IEC’s official Facebook page describes what the commission is and provides contact details. But the suspicious page is only described as a “Musician/band” and includes no further information.

Taking note of these details can help to ensure that users are not fooled by fake accounts. For more safe browsing tips, see Africa Check’s guide for spotting and avoiding scams.

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