How the awful joke about former VP Moody Awori began

Former vice-president Moody Awori (second right) with some members of his family (from left) Pat Awori, Dennis Awori and Judi Wakhungu (far right) at his home in Lavington on May 27, 2015. There were false rumours spreading on social media that the veteran politician had passed on. Mr Awori is alive and well. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The blogger initially had embedded another 'tweet' from the Nation through its official handle, @dailynation.

  • Mr Awori and his family have vehemently rebutted claims that he was ill and said that at no point was he admitted to hospital.

  • Former Prime Minster Raila Odinga denied the blogger's claims that he tweeted a message of condolence to Awori family.

A poorly crafted joke emerged on Tuesday evening about the "death" of Kenya’s ninth Vice-President.

The false news was about former Funyula MP Moody Awori, who is still alive and well.

Before this, Kenyans had, for the better part of the day, been treated to a tweeted gaffe from State House about an Al-Shabaab attack on Kenya Police in Yumbis in Garissa County.

The announced "mourning" by President Kenyatta was later retracted after it emerged only one officer had been killed and not "officers".

In the evening, though, rumours started milling that Uncle Moody was no more.

An insensitive gossip blogger ventured in, declaring Uncle Moody’s end.


To prove his point, the blogger faked tweets from three credible Twitter pages of two known personalities and that of the Nation Media Group (NMG).

As Kenyans started to ask what had happened to Mr Awori, the blogger embedded "tweets" from NMG’s news alerts handle, @NationBreaking, supposedly breaking the news.

It was a minute after 8pm.

The blogger claimed that former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale sent their condolences to the family of the former VP.

On Wednesday, Mr Odinga denied the tweets linked to him.

Philip Etale, the director of communications of the Orange Democratic Movement, which Mr Odinga leads, announced the rumours had been a bad joke and told the public to ignore the "news".

When the Nation team contacted associates of Awori family, they confirmed the Uncle Moody was alive.

On Wednesday, we paid the veteran politician a visit at his home in Nairobi, where he was relaxing with his children and other family members, including Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu and Dennis Awori, the chairman of Toyota Kenya.

During the visit, Mr Awori and his family vehemently rebutted claims that he was ill and said that at no point was he admitted to hospital.

“As you can see, I am in perfect health. I do not understand why such information would be spread,” he said.


So how did the fake tweets happen?

There were similar kinds just days before Nelson Mandela died in 2013.

One of the victims was, of course, Paris Hilton’s page, which had 'declared' Mandela’s death, three days before his actual death.

In Uncle Moody’s case, the blogger simply snapped previous genuine tweets from the handles in question using an app, then edited out the contents and replaced them with the news of the 'death'.

It looked genuine, except that it wasn’t. 

First, the blogger initially had embedded another 'tweet' from the 'Nation' through its official handle, @dailynation.


The fakeness in the tweet was such that it had been written as "@DailyNation".

The supposed tweets from the handles also indicated the old version of Twitter, suggesting that the tweets had in fact been edited out.

We may never know whether the blogger was up to fixing the Nation Media Group or the personalities of the other Twitter pages.

At the Nation Media Group, there are stringent approval procedures to be followed before a breaking-news item is published.

In this case, there was nothing to break and so it didn’t happen.

But there is a lesson in it.

Next time you want to prove the tweets are original, just check the timeline of those handles and not the embedded tweets, or call the owners.