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DP Ruto uses Twitter to fight 'fake’ news

Tuesday September 3 2019

Deputy President William Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto at a past event. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JEREMIAH KIPLANG'AT
By JEREMIAH KIPLANG'AT
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Deputy President William Ruto has lately sought the comfort of the popular microblogging site, Twitter, to dismiss stories he deems “fake” in a move easily interpreted as emulating US President Donald Trump who has made the platform his online home where he ferociously takes on real and perceived enemies, the mainstream media included.

On Sunday, at around 11pm, the DP used his official Twitter handle to dismiss a front page story carried by one of the local dailies.

SCREENSHOT

Alongside the tweet was a screenshot of the paper’s Monday leading story about some drama involving him at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport when President Uhuru Kenyatta returned into the country from Japan last Thursday morning.

 “…Jubilee is built on rock solid philosophy and beliefs that no amount of scheming and propaganda can undermine,” the tweet partly read.

It was the second time in less than a week that the DP was seeking the warmth of Twitter, where he enjoys a massive following, to respond directly to a story by a local media house. On the site he is followed by 2.3 million people.

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In mid-August, he took on another local newspaper for a headline story that touched on his allies planning a battle against a referendum expected to be proposed by the Building Bridges Initiative established by the President and opposition leader Raila Odinga following their handshake last year March.

CLARIFICATIONS

Before switching to the social site, the DP had largely ignored similar stories in the past or opted for clarifications through his aides. On rare occasions, he would respond directly to the stories during public rallies or functions.

For now, Twitter appears to have become his favourite platform.

Mr David Mugonyi, the Communications Secretary at the DP’s office, on Monday said the DP believed in media freedom and that he had opted to set the record straight on the interactive social sites.

 “The DP believes in the Freedom of the Media. That includes the right to make mistakes but not to fabricate malicious falsehood to score some political goals. That is why he has not exercised his civil right to sue for defamation despite numerous fake news touching on him. He has, however, chosen the right to set the record straight through the interactive platform provided by Social Media,” said Mr Mugonyi.

COMPLAINTS

However, the Media Council of Kenya Deputy Chief Executive Victor Bwire, on Monday requested the DP to take advantage of the existing legal mechanisms to raise his complaints against the media.

 “The DP is justified to raise issues with the media. It is within his right to do so. We would like to advise him to use existing legal structures to raise his concerns. We would be more than ready to look at them if they are genuine,” said Mr Bwire told the Nation.

As the DP is still finding his way on Twitter, Mr Trump was on Monday in his element raging against the media for stories that did not suit him.

 “…the good news is that we are winning. Our real opponent is not the Democrats, or the dwindling number of Republicans that lost their way and got left behind, our primary opponent is the Fake News Media. In the History of our Country, they have never been so bad!” President Trump tweeted to his 63.8 million followers.