A group of professional bodies has asked the electoral body and other agencies to take action to tame online incitement.
The Public Relations Society of Kenya (PRSK), Marketing Society of Kenya (MSK) and the Association of Public Relations Management Firms (APReCOM) said they have shared a letter with the respective institutional heads of IEBC, National Cohesion and Integration Commission, Kenya Film Classification Board, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, National Police Service, Media Council of Kenya, Communications Authority of Kenya and the Judiciary.
“We call upon the respective constitutional and law enforcement agencies to handle their respective dockets with the seriousness it deserves at this crucial period. These agencies cannot afford to bury their heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich,” they said in a statement.
The professional bodies said they are concerned at the growing level of political intolerance and unethical communication practices orchestrated by the growing dissemination of deliberate misinformation and propaganda on several media platforms designed to appeal to base emotive instincts.
“As part our organizational corporate responsibility and ideals for public interest, we have shared a letter with the respective institutional heads alerting them of clearly incriminating and inciting online and related media content for their action,” read the statement signed by PRSK Chairperson Jane Gitau, APReCOM Chairperson Lawrence Gikaru and MSK CEO Joseph Karamoja.
They added their institutional media monitoring frameworks have confirmed the growing dissemination of deliberate misinformation and propaganda on several media platforms designed to appeal to base emotive instincts.
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“The dissemination of such information is being blatantly and openly perpetuated by groupings which appear to be closely related to the leading political parties and or presidential candidates. Our fears are particularly heightened by the fact that the candidates and sponsoring parties have not seen it fit to denounce the platforms or messages ostensibly crafted to advance their campaigns,” they said.
The bodies warned they will institute disciplinary action against any of their members cited for involvement in activities that are not consistent with its respective professional codes of ethics.
“We wish to remind all PRSK, MSK or APRECOM members involved in political campaigns to remain conscious of their ethical and professional obligations. To ensure professional integrated communication standards, we reiterate that we shall not hesitate to institute disciplinary action against any of our members cited for involvement in activities that are not consistent with our respective professional codes of ethics.”
According to regulations drafted by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), Kenyans found guilty of sharing inflammatory content via Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp this election season could face a fine of up to Sh1 million or a jail term of five years.
The regulations require social media users posting political to reveal their identities and any political affiliations.
This means that bloggers that share sponsored content may finally have to unveil their political sponsors.