Kenya’s Watchdog Threatens To Suspend Facebook For Failing To Stop Hate Speech

Kenya’s national cohesion watchdog on Friday threatened to suspend Facebook from the country if it doesn’t take immediate steps to mitigate hate speech ahead of the country’s general elections next month, reported The VOA News.

The regulator has given the social media giant one week time to remediate the problem, which included Facebook’s approval of ads advocating for ethnic cleansing. Several human rights organizations are calling on Facebook to immediately suspend all advertising in Kenya and take other emergency steps.

Kenya’s National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) told reporters on Friday that Facebook was in violation of the laws of the country. The NCIC was founded to mitigate ethnic violence and promote national healing in the wake of the 2007-08 post-election crisis.

On Friday, the NCIC said that the results of the Global Witness/Foxglove tests had corroborated its own internal findings.

During a briefing, Danvas Makori, an NCIC commissioner said Facebook has allowed itself to be a vector of hate speech and incitement, misinformation and disinformation.

Global Witness and Foxglove also called on Meta to stop publishing political ads, and to use “break glass” measures, the same emergency moderation methods it used to stem misinformation and civil unrest during the 2020 U.S. elections.

Facebook has a penetration of 82% in Kenya, making it the second most widely used social network after WhatsApp.

Last week, Meta claimed to have cracked down on harmful content in the country, issuing a press release praising itself for the many ways it was tackling problematic content.

But soon after, the social media giant approved ads run in both English and Swahili crafted specifically to instigate ethnic violence in the country, Kenya’s human rights groups said.

On August 9, Kenya will go to the polls, which are expected to be tightly contested and bitterly fought. The previous elections have been marred by ethnic tensions and violence, most notably the 2007 polls when post-election violence killed more than 1,100 people.

Caroline Finnegan

A professionnal journalist for the past ten years, I cover global news and economic affairs for The Chief Observer.

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