CS Mucheru: We will not shut down Facebook

Joe Mucheru

Joe Mucheru, the ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs Cabinet Secretary.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

ICT Cabinet Secretary (CS) Joe Mucheru has ruled out the possibility of suspending Facebook from Kenya during the electioneering period, contradicting the NCIC stance.

CS Mucheru said the government had committed to uphold press freedom and will not take part in the threats to shut down the social media giant, dispelling fears of a media shutdown during the election.

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Friday threatened to recommend the suspension of the social media giant from Kenya if it does not tame hate speech and incitement on its platforms.

NCIC commissioner, Danvas Makori, said Facebook, owned by Meta, had violated laws in the country and their efforts to get it take responsibility have been unsuccessful.

“They have allowed themselves to be a platform of hate speech, misinformation and disinformation in clear violation of NCIC Act and Communications Act of Kenya,” Mr Makori said.

However, CS Mucheru, in a quick rejoinder, has bailed out Facebook from the threats, reassuring Kenyans that no media would be shut down.

“Media, including social media, will continue to enjoy press freedom in Kenya,” Mr Mucheru said.

“[It is] not clear what legal framework NCIC plans to use to suspend Facebook. Government is on record. We are not shutting down the Internet.”

Double standards

According to the NCIC commissioner, the platform was applying double standards in content modulation.

“The content modulation of Facebook in other countries such as the US and those in Europe is robust. We are giving Facebook time to comply with our laws and regulations on hate speech. If Facebook does not comply within seven days, we will recommend the suspension of its operations,” Commissioner Makori said.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i is on record, assuring Kenyans that the government will not shut social media sites before, during and after the elections.

He, however, flagged social media use as having seen escalation of fake news and has called on the police and security agencies to be on alert to the unprecedented abuse of social media and cyberspace.