Kenya’s election is famously known for the proliferation of disinformation through social media platforms. During the 2017 elections, Twitter bots accounted for a quarter of influential voices on Twitter with the primary goal of disseminating negative narratives about major issues, political candidates and perceived electoral abnormalities.
Early this year, bloggers belonging to the camp of Willian Ruto, Kenyan deputy president and a presidential contender, shared a video across Twitter with the hashtag #Railathebetrayer, which trended and influenced conversations on that social media platform. The goal of the campaign was to expose Raila Odinga, a key contender, who is alleged to have betrayed other politicians in his political career.
Kenya’s upcoming elections are already experiencing a bumpy ride as political contenders are engaging in intense accusations. In addition, disinformation campaigns are already on the rise across Facebook and Twitter, without any proper tools to curb them.
The 2021 Reuters Institute Digital News survey indicated that 75 percent of news consumers in Kenya find it hard to distinguish between what is real and what is fake online. Also, political misinformation is known to spread three times faster than any type of misinformation on social media platforms.
This is worrying for citizens because politicians and foreign influencers will weaponize these social media platforms to advance harmful narratives that will undermine the integrity of the Kenyan elections.