Administrators of WhatsApp groups in the country will be held responsible if the forums are used to spread falsehoods and hate speech, Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Director-General Francis Wangusi has warned.
The moderators, he said, have the responsibility of ensuing that members do not spread rumours and hate speech or misinform others.
Speaking during a stakeholders’ breakfast meeting on election preparedness at Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi, Mr Wangusi warned that the authority will not allow warmongers to take charge of cyberspace.
“Currently, we have identified 21 county WhatsApp platforms and we have indicated to their administrators that they have to take action before we deal with them,” he said.
SNOOPING SOCIAL MEDIA
Mr Wangusi said CA monitors have started watching chatter on telecommunication gadgets, news media outlets and social media platforms to ensure that perpetrators of hate speech are dealt with as per the law.
It is, however, not clear how the CA will obtain information from WhatsApp groups, whose data is encrypted.
He warned media houses that have been allowed to set up their own vote tallying centres against publishing their results as final.
“Some media houses have been licensed by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to have their own tallying centres. This does not permit them to publish any election results as final before the IEBC does so.
“We shall be monitoring activities by media houses to ensure they abide by broadcasting regulations and the Elections Offences Act,” he said.
National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) chairman Francis Ole Kaparo said his agency has launched a massive crackdown on offensive websites and other social media platforms.
He said his commission has begun targeting websites that impersonate dignitaries or political parties.
“These proxies are the major source of fake news and to a larger extent, the problem of misinformation and hate speech,” he said.
Mr Kaparo gave an example of a Busia-based blogger who posted on social media that non-Kikuyus living in Limuru had been killed and yet nothing of the sort had happened.
“When we tracked down the blogger, we found him in Busia and he had not even been to Limuru. These are the kind of senseless activities we want to eradicate,” he said.