CIO East Africa (Nairobi)

11 July 2014

Kenya: State Launches Hashtag to Curb Online Hate Speech

The ministry of ICT has unveiled a new hashtag, #StopHatespeechKenya, to tone down the viral nature of hate messages being spewed on the Internet.

This is in response to hate messages that continue to dominate Kenya's social media platforms.

Director of Public Communications Mary Ombara said the ministry was seeking ways of popularizing the hashtag to ensure hate messages are kept at bay.

The hashtag is already live on Facebook and Twitter and will soon be popularized on other platforms.

Hate speech in Kenya has been there for a while now and social media platform have been found to be prone to hate speech. Hate speech also is often spread via text and was also a serious factor in sparking the violence after the 2007 elections.

Since 2007/2008 post election violence that left over 1300 people dead, many ways have been introduced to curb this menace and to stimulate healing and buttress national unity. In 2010, the National Cohesion and Intergration Commission (NCIC), anchored by the desire to facilitate and promote a Kenyan society whose values are harmonious and non discriminatory for peaceful co-existence and integration, introduced a new text service to report hate speech in Kenya ahead of a referendum on a new constitution.

The free SMS number - 6397 - was established thanks to $700,000 (£459,400) received from international donors.

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