14 bloggers linked to hate messages

Thursday March 28 2013

Head of Civil Service Francis Kimemia. Photo/FILE

Head of Civil Service Francis Kimemia. Photo/FILE NATION MEDIA GROUP

By FRED MUKINDA [email protected]

The search for 14 bloggers suspected of posting hate messages on the Internet has started.

Six of them had been identified and were being investigated, a media monitoring committee revealed on Wednesday.

The rest use pseudonyms and the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) has been asked to unearth their identities, according to the National Steering Committee on Media Monitoring.

“We were able to download a number of postings and sent them to CCK. We identified eight other bloggers apart from the six being investigated. Most of them use pseudonyms but CCK has assured us that in a week or so we shall be able to identify the eight others,” the director of Public Communications, Ms Mary Ombara said on Wednesday.

Mr Robert Alai, a well-known blogger was on Tuesday charged with posting “annoying” statements on social media sites, Twitter and Facebook.

He was arrested following complaints by head of civil service Francis Kimemia and released on a Sh50,000 cash bail.

The commission is also investigating an FM radio station because it deems messages posted on its online platform as hate.

“There’s one particular vernacular radio station that during the week was posting this kind of information. The language is derogative and targets a specified community,” Ms Ombara said.

“The committee wishes to caution all those engaged in social media to verify any messages of political nature that they receive through SMS before making any postings,” read part of a statement issued by the committee.

Those blacklisted would be charged with contravening the Kenya Information and Communication Act.

Mobile phone service providers have helped in blocking thousands of text messages deemed to spread hatred.

The government was however undecided on how to deal with those who send them, having been overwhelmed by the large numbers.