State cracks down on 176 social media accounts over hate speech

The government has identified 176 social media accounts involved in propagating hate speech.

NCIC and Communications Authority said 31 cases are under prosecution across the country ahead of the elections.

In a statement on Friday, CA Director general Francis Wangusi warned administrators of social media platforms that they will be held liable for any hate speech remarks.

Wangusi said any person contravening the NCIC act 2008 is liable for a fine of one million or imprisonment of three years.

While offences of ethnic contempt or racial discrimination will attract a fine of one million or imprisonment of five years or both.

“Bloggers, online news sites, political leaders and their followers should exercise discretion during the electioneering period,” he said.

Whatsapp admins

Wangusi said it shall be the responsibility of the administrators of social media platform to moderate and control the content and discussions generated on their platform.

“Administrators of social media platforms will be held liable for any hate speech posts allowed in their forums,” he said.

He said the use of social media platforms for political advertisement shall also be done in adherence to the electoral laws of Kenya.

“…the authors of political messages should be disclosed and all comments should be polite, truthful and respectful,”he said.

NCIC chairman Francis Kaparo last week put WhatsApp administrators on notice saying they will be held to account for fuelling violence ahead of the August 8 elections.

He said the commission is monitoring groups to deal with “terrible people on social media who aim to cause unnecessary tension in the country”.

More on this: We are coming for you, Kaparo tells WhatsApp admins over hate messages

Wangusi further said website administrators should authenticate and validate the source and truthfulness of content.

This was after it was reported that fake news stories on upcoming elections are widespread on WhatsApp and Facebook.

A study by Portland and GeoPoll mobile surveying platform indicated that 9 out of 10 Kenyans have seen fake news ahead of the August 8 elections.

According to the poll, 90 per cent of respondents reported having seen false or inaccurate news in relation to the general election.

More on this: WhatsApp, Facebook top sources of fake news on August polls – study

“Prior to publishing, to limit information that might spread rumours,mislead or incite people to violence,content authors should correct content that is established as false or misleading,” Wangusi said.

Broadcasters social media sites

Wangusi urged broadcasters to manage their social media sites in a proactive manner to avoid posting of divisive and undesirable user generated content.

“Broadcasters are advised to exercise caution during this sensitive period to avoid giving hate mongers a platform to propagate hate speech, ethnic contempt and incitement to violence,” he said.

Kenyans are preparing to elect a President, MPs, Governors, Senators, Woman reps, and Ward representatives on August 8.

Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta is seeking a second five-year term and Opposition leader Raila Odinga is determined to unseat him.

Campaigns have gained momentum with Jubilee and NASA leaders attempting to convince the electorate that they are the best.

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