Kenya’s government has clearly distanced itself from an ultimatum to Facebook’s parent company Meta, in which the platform was threatened with being shut down ahead of the country’s upcoming elections. “We have no plans to shut down any of these platforms,” Information Secretary Joe Mucheru told Reuters. “We value freedom of the press, whether it’s traditional or social media.” Interior Minister Fred Matiangi had previously assured that Facebook would certainly not be switched off. Unlike before previous elections, there is peace in the country.
Support for Facebook
The fairly unequivocal support for Facebook and Meta followed strong criticism from the National Commission for Cohesion and Integration of Kenya (NCIC). The state institution is responsible for ensuring peaceful coexistence between different ethnic groups and is intended to counteract discrimination and conflicts between the 45 tribes in the country. Before the parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for August 9, she has now accused Facebook of not preventing hatred and hate speech on the platform. If this is not made up for, Facebook would be switched off. The US group was given a week to get the problem under control.
The allegations involved ads that ran on Facebook, despite the fact that they were aimed at fomenting ethnic violence. Facebook only complained about the extremely problematic content in the English version, but because of language deficiencies, not content-related deficiencies. After the required corrections were made, these were activated, as were the corresponding advertisements in the other official language, Swahili. While the NCIC wanted to use the ultimatum to get Facebook to implement protective measures such as those tested in the USA after the attack on the Capitol, the government is now objecting. There is no legal basis for the threatened step, said Mucheru.
The NCIC was founded in 2008 in response to the political crisis following the 2007 presidential election. An estimated 1,500 people were killed in the bloody conflict and more than 600,000 were displaced. The establishment of the Commission was a measure intended to prevent such conflicts in the future.
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