How did fake news impact Kenya’s election?

Kenyans pray during a rally calling for peace ahead of Kenya's August 8 election in Nairobi, Kenya. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Kenyans pray during a rally calling for peace ahead of Kenya’s August 8 election in Nairobi, Kenya. REUTERS

After the August 8 election results a number of protests broke out in Kenya. Many fake images and stories were spread aimed to misinform and create further tension

“I think social media played a critical role in how the electorate discussed amongst themselves about the race itself, about the leading principles, about the party primaries.” Nendo Founder, Mark Kaigwa said.

One news source claimed over 100 people had been killed while Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said 24.

Videos bearing international media logos revealed fake results.

“With fake news in politics you have an audience that seemingly has such an appetite for entertainment, popular culture, and a blend of politics.” Kaigwa said.

As Kenya prepares for its election re-run on October 26 voters are becoming aware of the impact of fake news.

“I think that fake news might actually sway this election, because very many people now are unsettled with who they might choose and there’s a lot of information going around.” René Solomon, Kenyan Voter said.

“There’s a lot of conversation going with regards to fake news, so in as much as there has been fake news and the damage might be done, at least there is [still] time to change people’s mindsets.” Catherine Kuria, a Kenyan voter said.

To curb its potential impact on the re-run, Kenya’s crime information centre has been meeting every Wednesday.

“We have created the most dissectional secretariat that deal with these matters under one roof, it has had an impact of reducing hate speech, and reducing, to some extent, the postings on social media.” National Cohesion and Integration Commission Chairman, Francis Ole Kaparo said.

Officials remain confident for October that Kenyans can read through the headlines

“Society is increasingly getting to know that not everything they read on social media is correct. It has now created a perception: Don’t just take what is on social media as truth.  We cannot, and must not, be blind to the fact that it has the capacity to do a lot of damage.” He added.