20 March 2018

Kenya: U.S. Launches Online Campaign to Fight Fake News

Photo: GeoPoll/PortlandComms
A new study reveals that 90% of Kenyans have seen or heard false news about the 2017 general election, with 87% reporting instances of deliberately false - or fake - news (file photo).

Verification tools will help fight the spreading of fake news in Kenya. This was the consensus in a discussion held Tuesday at the United States Embassy that saw top digital media editors share tips on how to spot fake news.

The discussion was held as part of the year-long media literacy campaign launched by US Ambassador Robert Godec.

Ambassador Godec had during the launch said fake news has to be dealt with by every stakeholder.

"Fake news is undermining confidence in news media in Kenya, and a free and strong media is necessary for a strong democracy. Stopping the spread of fake news is everyone's responsibility, with a collaborative effort between the media and the public," said Ambassador Godec.

During the Tuesday discussion, Nation Media Digital Managing Editor Churchill Otieno said competition to break news is natural but verification has to be done.

'SLIPPERY GROUND'

"It is a slippery ground because for the longest time the nature of news has been that the source is the newsrooms until we woke up one day to find other sources. Naturally you have to compete, but since journalism is defined by ethics and guidelines, in the end, ethics must win," he said.

Students present at the discussion sought to find out ways that they could use to verify news and information online.

"The tools that can help include image reverse search, verifying the URL if it is the real one used by the source, checking with multiple sources also helps and of course common sense," Standard Digital Editor Carole Kimutai said.

"Use of fact checking tools like Africa Check - in our case in the newsrooms - has helped verify information," Royal Media Service's Robin Njogu added.

The embassy will this year sponsor a campaign of online activities to stop the spread of fake news.

This will include an email series, an online quiz, blog posts, online chats, public outreach, educational videos, and online pledges.

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