Kenyans on Twitter feel for a fake tweet on the ongoing doctors’ strike alleged to have been posted by Dr Ben Carson, the nominee for US Secretary for Housing and Urban Development
With a persistent doctors’ strike in Kenya and their union leaders jailed for contempt, a user created a fake post implying that the American surgeon, who has performed life-saving operations in Africa, was chiding the Kenyan government.
“Came across sad news from Kenya. Their judiciary jails doctors. Such a pathetic government,” the supposed tweet read.
The tweet screenshot, spread by many users under hashtag #AsystemIsComingDown, showed it had been written and posted on Monday by Dr Carson’s verified account, @RealBenCarson.
For many Kenyans on Twitter, especially the medics angry at the government for jailing their union leaders, felt one of their own was felt their predicament.
Verification of the post however reveals that it is fake as it does not exist on Dr Carson’s account.
The last message on his Twitter page was posted on New Year’s Day.
In fact as a nominee for a Cabinet post, the use of the word ‘pathetic’ to describe another government was unlikely from a man who may be deal with foreign entities, especially governments keen to learn about US housing policies.
But as the tweets started to fizzle, some users started to acknowledge the tweet wasn’t genuine and alerted others that it was not legit.
With the internet age, fake news has become so common online and people will go as far as screen shooting a genuine tweet, editing out the message and date and replacing with their controversial dispatch.
Then it spread like wildfire, with bloggers riding on users’ misinformation to make money from advertising.
Last year in May, the Nation had to clarify rumours spreading online about the “death” of Kenya’s 9th Vice President Moody Awori.
A crafty blogger created a false tweet and embedded it to create an impression that Nation had posted the ‘news’.
The bogus blogger had gone on to falsify twitter messages of prominent politicians appearing to react to the news. They all disowned the messages.
Social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook are awash with fake sites quoting non-existent quotes from Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.
In November 2015, Jeffrey Gettleman, the New York Times correspondent in Kenya found himself in awkward position after falling prey to the fake Mugabe quotes.
The New York Times had to correct a story on Kenyan corruption that had initially carried fictitious comments about Mugabe chiding Kenya’s inherent tendency to steal.
Recently, both Google and Facebook announced they would crackdown on fake news sites posted on their platforms, as a way of cutting their access to ad revenues they don’t deserve.
So next time you want to know what is fake or genuine, the power is in your hands.
There are several tools you can use to flag a false story. They include fact-checking websites that can help you determine if one’s said comments are valid, such as Africacheck.org.