Should the government block hate speech on social media?
Should the government block hate speech on social media? Should social media be a one stop platform for propaganda? Well, I don’t have an answer for that since it’s my job to raise a voice on social media and get paid. However, as written by Hans Kelsen, our grundnorm which is the Constitution provides clear freedoms under Bill of rights, the same rights have exceptions.
In the case of DR. CHRISTOPHER NDARATHI MURUNGARU vs THE STANDARD LIMITED and others, an injunction to restrain the defendant from publishing defamatory words or articles relating to the Plaintiff and in particular linking the plaintiff into corruption, corrupt activities and Anglo Leasing affair was filed. The defendant denied that the same were defamatory of the plaintiff. They based their argument from Article 34(2) and 260 of the Constitution of Kenya. Article 34 gives specific rights of freedom to the media barring any control of state over or interference with any person engaged in broadcasting, production or circulation of any publication or the dissemination of information by any medium. It also bars the state from penalising any person for any opinion or view or the contents of any broadcast, publication or dissemination.
To add on the constitutional provisions, the defendants also used a precedent to support their stand; Reyes vs. The Queen  2 AC 235a, in the case it was stated, ” when called upon to interpret the Constitution the court must begin its task of constitutional interpretation by carefully considering the language used in the Constitution. A generous and purposive interpretation is to be given to constitutional provisions protecting human rights. The Court has no license to read its own predilections and moral values into the Constitution but it is required to consider the substance of the fundamental right at issue and ensure contemporary protection of that right in the light of evolving standards of decency and mark the progress of a maturing society”.
In short, the court must uphold the principles of Constitutional interpretation and protect the right given to the media by Article 34.
To answer the question; ‘should the government block hate speech on social media?’ the Plaintiffs in the above case based their defense from Rosenblatt vs. Baer 383 US 75, 92 (1966), in the case it was held that “the right of a man to the protection of his own reputation from unjustified invasion and wrongful hurt reflects hurt no more than our basic concept of the essential dignity and worth of every human being – a concept at the root of any decent system of ordered liberty.”
To add on that, the constitution and Articles 17 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICPR) support the fact that the protection of the right to human dignity is a fundamental human right in any democratic society which must be protected and an infringement on the reputation of a human being has the effect of attacking his dignity.
Quote from the case; a democratic society cannot exist without the freedom to express new ideas and put forward opinions about the functioning of public institutions. Essentially, democracy means government of the people by the people, it is obvious that very citizen must be entitled to participate in the democratic process and in order to enable him to intelligently exercise his right of making a choice, free and general discussion of public matters is absolutely essential.
So, should the government block hate speech on social media? In Germany, the answer is yes. The German government made a deal with Facebook, Twitter and Google to remove hate speech within 24 hours of it being reported. If Kenya, copies the German government, will it change the internet as we know it?