A tool has been developed to show how fake news stories are spread on social media.
The search engine, Hoaxy, was created by researchers at Indiana University Bloomington in the United States. It is intended to combat the spread of fake news.
During the US presidential campaign, a fake post-Election Day story sparked a real-life event when a gunman fired shots into a Washington, D.C., restaurant.
The shooting was sparked by a conspiracy theory dubbed Pizzagate, that Hillary Clinton ran an illegal child abuse ring during her presidential campaign.
A 28-year-old armed man went to the pizza restaurant mentioned in the story and fired shots. No one was injured.
Online platforms in Kenya have juicy news on celebrities, politicians and gory accidents. Users will likely think the information is from a site owned by a media house of repute.
It may be nation-news.co.ke presenting itself as the website for the Daily Nation, or standardnews.info wanting you to believe it is the website for The Standard. Other times it can be c1tizen.com trying to appear like Citizen TV’s online portal or thestar.co.ke posing as the digital version of The Star newspaper.
At c1tizen.com, for instance, there was a report that Foreign Affairs minister Amina Mohamed’s bid to become the chairperson of the African Union had been rejected by some heads of state. It wasn’t true.
At nation-news.co.ke, was a report that Mr Trump had rejected a congratulatory message from President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The National Transport and Safety Authority tweeted on their official Twitter handle that a video of an accident involving a trailer and a matatu occurred over two years ago.
Also, a post on the social media site, Facebook, by a ‘Recce’ officer showing a photograph of bullets claimed that the ammunition was intended to be used on vocal MPs Junet Mohammed and Millie Odhiambo.
Another photo of the ‘officer’ showed him sitting in a grounded helicopter. The photo of the officer was verified to be of the late Inspector Luke Oyugi, who died in a crash with former Internal Security Minister George Saitoti.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg a few weeks ago admitted it is a complex problem technically and philosophically. He asked Facebook users to promptly report any news items they feel are fake.
Dr Hanningtone Gaya, the chairman of the Media Owners Association of Kenya, said the trend is no different from product counterfeiters who ride on established brands.
According to Communications Authority director-general Francis Wangusi, the use of Web addresses that mimic the known ones is not illegal but if it is meant to mislead the audience, it is an offence.
Should anyone suspect that a domain name is being misused, the CA chairman said, they should report to the National Kenya Computer Incident Response Team Coordination Centre whose offices are at the CA building in Nairobi’s Westlands.