First-ever study on fake news in Kenya reveals scale of issue and impact on trust in media
While fake news is evidently now a core part of the news mix in Kenya, Kenyans have been found to be well tuned to spotting false information.
Through a study led by strategic communications consultancy Portland in collaboration with GeoPoll, a mobile surveying platform. Respondents cited conflicting data, controversial messages and biased reporting as the top factors that lead them to suspect something is false.
The Reality of Fake News in Kenya, launched in Nairobi as the first-ever study aimed at quantifying the prevalence and impact of false information during an election campaign in Africa.
Conducted via SMS, the survey asked a nationally representative sample of 2,000 Kenyans a series of questions about their consumption of news during May 2017 in relation to the forthcoming general election.
The survey found:
- 90% of respondents reported having seen false or inaccurate news in relation to the general election. 87% of respondents regarded this news as being deliberately misleading – or fake news.
- Traditional media remain the most trusted news sources, with television ranking highest, followed by radio and newspapers.
- Radio is the most consistently accessed source of news in Kenya, with the smallest variation between different provinces across the country.
- Social media is widely used by Kenyans of all ages to access and share news, with 49% of Kenyans using social platforms to secure general election news. However, social media consistently ranks lower than traditional media on trust.
- Facebook and WhatsApp are the most popular social media platforms for news, preferred overall by 46% and 25% respectively.
- Friends and family, and community leaders, are the least trusted sources of news overall, ranked as the least likely to provide accurate information about the general election.
- 57% Kenyans feel able to access all the information about the general election that they need.
- A vast majority of Kenyans (78%) would like more factual and accurate information about the general election instead of opinion and commentary.
- 67% of Kenyans prefer comprehensive and detailed information about politics. 33% prefer summarized and concise information.