Over the campaign season, businesses have suffered not only from political tension but also fake news that was laughable at first, as it was seen as just propaganda. The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), Safaricom, Standard Group Limited and Soma connect came together to forge a way forward being that traditional media is most affected by fake news.
The NCIC was part of the convention to discuss in depth and also look at the rising dissemination of fake information with a view of recommending for prosecution of authors whose content may evoke violence and therefore ethnic hatred.
Fake news, mostly with the intent to mislead for financial or political gain has been used as a term to diminish credible reportage from the mainstream media, popular with USA President Donald Trump’s campaign against Hillary Clinton. This, gained him popularity as he satirically rubbished the media and sadly won him the election.
Before the August election, fake news got down and dirty to a point of cloning international media.
“We are not interested in Fake News per se, but the content. There are those that have been deliberately designed to stir ethnic emotions or violence. We want the online community to help us stem hatred that is being spewed on social media,” said NCIC Commissioner Joseph Nasongo
Nasongo said the commission is investigating 273 cases of hate speech on social media though there are many others that have been reported. Fake news is a type of yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate misinformation or hoaxes spread through traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media.
Standard Media Group Citizen Journalism Editor and Social Media Lead, Julian Kamau, said traditional media are the most affected with Fake News, hence they have set-up a fact-check department to verify information they receive before broadcast or publication. Kamau challenged local techies to come up with applications that can help verify and filter false information online.
“There are very few online tools available for verification of information especially video footage that we receive in newsrooms. Sometimes we take up to five hours to be able to confirm the authenticity of information we receive and this delays news dissemination process,” she said.
Safaricom’s Corporate Affairs Director, Steve Chege, said the proliferation of Fake News has forced corporates to invest more resources in teams and tools to deal with misinformation on social networks.
Chege says Fake News has become a huge business enterprise where bloggers are spending time and resources generating false sensational articles to drive online traffic and increase revenue.
He urged stakeholder in the corporate industry to stop advertising on blogs that thrive on Fake News to make dissemination of such articles unprofitable for unscrupulous bloggers.
According to corporate affairs director, Fake News is costing listed companies a fortune at the Nairobi Securities Exchange and businesses are investing more resources to be able to review, filter and deal with false information that may affect their operations.
Low cost of internet in Kenya today has contributed largely to dissemination of fake news also because of increased access. Social networks especially Whatsapp provide ready audiences and that is why creators of Fake News will use internet to disseminate their articles faster and drive traffic to their sites.
A report published in April on internet usage showed Kenya is leading Africa in internet penetration with over 30 million having access to the internet. Trends from the Kenyan Smartphone and E-Commerce Industry’ also shows 67 per cent of the population in Kenya is classified as internet users.
The political class has therefore realized the importance of Fake News during the campaigns hence invested heavily in teams that generate and disseminate such false content online.