April 25th 2017

Media / Watchdog

Facebook's new tool to drive fringe Kenyan news sites out of business

The system will deal a blow to rumour mongers who give false news with the main aim of eliciting tribal discontent among the public. The tools are likely to give candidates and their supporters ways of verifying the authenticity of facts on the proliferating websites and even the websites themselves

By Reuben Gitahigitahireuben@gmail.comMonday, 16 Jan 2017 09:51 EAT

Facebook logo.

Kenyans have welcomed the inclusion of 'fake news' alert tools by Facebook ahead of Germany's general elections and called for the features to be inculcated worldwide, including in Kenya's elections scheduled for August this year. Under the new tools to be deployed by Facebook, users will have the possibility of marking a story as a fake news story and let other users know it exist and even block it. The tool will be highly used in the run-up to the German elections.

Mainstream American media has held that 'fake news', often satirical content or outright lies generated by fringe websites as a means of generating web traffic, had a big influence on last year's elections won by President-elect Donald Donald Trump. However, some media experts disagree. "Mr Trump benefitted from the convoluted system of electoral college. Otherwise Hillary Clinton beat him by more than three million votes. The media did it had to do, people always disagree about media coverage,” said Amos Marube, a lecturer at Technical university of Kenya.

Kenya’s general elections are often divisive, fought on political and tribal basis, and the emergence of social media platforms have provided partisans new tools of stirring the country's electoral campaigns. In 2007, the growth of vernacular radio station precipitated the post-election violence where more than 1,333 people were killed as a result of a contentious general election that pitted the incumbent Mwai Kibaki against opposition leader Raila odinga.

In Kenya, the system will deal a blow to rumour mongers who give false news with the main aim of eliciting tribal discontent among the public. The tools are likely to give candidates and their supporters ways of verifying the authenticity of facts on the proliferating websites and even the websites themselves.

The writer is an experienced journalist, lecturer and researcher based in Nairobi





Stay Connected