We must use social media responsibly

Social media platforms.

Social media platforms are a powerful new battleground in the electoral process and for spreading disinformation and misinformation.

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What you need to know:

  • Social media platforms are a powerful new battleground in the electoral process and for spreading disinformation and misinformation.
  • With the existence of new social media platforms, many have resorted to them for political debate.


With just eight days before the August 9 General Election, tension in the country is high, some of it driven by misuse of social media.

Social media platforms are a powerful new battleground in the electoral process and for spreading disinformation and misinformation.

According to a report from Mozilla Foundation, which campaigns for an open and accessible internet, there is a relatively well-established disinformation industry in Kenya which is largely driven by these social media platforms.

The misuse of social media, especially during this electioneering period in Kenya, is not a new occurrence.

It has been in existence despite several interventions and measures put in place to combat its worrying effects.

Back in the 2007 general elections, violence occurred after the election.

Largely, the major reason for that violence was hate speech by leaders and their supporters.

Amongst the listed social media platforms, TikTok and Facebook have been cited as the top sites through which politicians and their supporters spread hate speech and false statements, according to the US-based Mozilla Foundation. 

Also, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) last week threatened to suspend Meta Inc’s Facebook in Kenya for not preventing hate speech on its platform.

Traditionally, political debate was shaped by mainstream media, but over the years public trust in this media reduced because of perceived bias.

Political debate

With the existence of new social media platforms, many have resorted to them for political debate.

Fake news and rumours that have recently appeared on social media platforms can not only skew or influence election results but also drive conflict and incite violence.

False information is likely to spread further and faster due to approximately 5.3 million Kenyans who use these sites. 

It has also been realized that most social media influencers support certain political candidates.

Some even doctor photos to swell numbers of those who attend political rallies.

The doctored pictures are then spread on social media platforms.

Some spread videos of some politicians using language that is offensive, insulting, misleading, confusing, obscene and profane, mostly in vernacular. 

It is high time government, state agencies, the Communication Authority, NCIC, security agencies and other concerned stakeholders took action to stop the misuse of social media ahead of the August 9 election.

Those found culpable should be taken to court and charged.

The government should monitor social media platforms to ensure offensive material is removed. It is good that the NCIC is already doing this.

Kenyans should be sensitised on the importance of using social media platforms responsibly. Politicians should learn to campaign without spreading offensive messages.

Rodgers Otiso, Migori

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