Corporates Kenya

Disinformation and the Role of Big-Tech in Kenya

Mrs Leah Kimathi peace and security expert in Nairobi today during the 2022 report on Disinformation & the role of Big-Tech in Kenya. Photo: Abdiwahid Abdikadir

By Bernard Mulwa

Approximately 30 public Facebook pages are promoting official al-Shabaab propaganda, resharing “news” updates and promoting central al-Shabaab narrative, a new research shows. According to the Trends and Insights for Africa {TIFA} a research which was commissioned today in Nairobi shows that the pages are often affiliated with al-Shabaab news website, which researchers nicknamed the al-Shabaab News Network, have a collective followers based of 39,488 and have grown by more than 8,600 followers since January 2022 to June 2022.

Digital platforms experts in Kenya have challenged stake holders to bring the platforms in to a discussion and enforce a law to curb misinformation and fake news. Mrs Leah Kimathi, a violent extremist expert however said the government needs to put restrictions to the social media but without overreaching. The Social media companies have also been asked to put in to action a better review process to review content before it goes live.

In a section of the research by {TIFA} it shows a majority of Kenyans feel that social media companies should be regulated more than they are currently. However, it stated that Kenyans cannot trust the Member of Parliament to be the proposers and the currier of the order to control the social media because it is the same politicians who were hiring bloggers to make fake news.

During the 2022 presidential elections in Kenya, it was noted by the research firm that online attacks on women in political leadership on Facebook and fake news was high with 90 percent of Kenyans mentioning Facebook as one social media site used to spread disinformation.

A research which was conducted in 23 of May to 14 of May 2022 before the elections shows 83 percent of Kenyans use Facebook as the most source of news however 69 percent of the users said they don’t trust Facebook because it gives fake news with 70 percent of Kenyans agreed that social media are harmful.

Kenya’s eminent legal organizations have set to out the implications for Kenya of unchecked viral hate and violence running rampant from Facebook’s Nairobi hub. The case against Meta will be heard on 6 of February 2023.              

Speaking to journalist in Nairobi today during the launch of the report, Mrs Leah Kimathi, a violent extremist expert said “we should be cognizant that calling for regulations does not mean killing the freedom of speech” there is need to check on how does the government engages with these Big-Tech companies, “we cannot give the government a free hand” she says.  

Mrs Leah Kimathi, also observed that in Kenya there is need for a clear policy formulation about content moderation, algorithm and enforcement.

Currently in Kenya, policies and actions about the role of Big-Tech is ongoing and discussion is at both levels of Members of parliament and the Senate.


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