Kenyan Ministers Say Government Not Banning Facebook

The advocacy group Global Witness says Facebook must take emergency steps to stop hate speech on the social media platform in the final days before Kenyans vote on August 9.

Nairobi — Kenyan ministers said the government has no intention of banning Facebook despite a watchdog last week accusing the social media platform of failing to stop hate speech ahead of Aug. 9 elections.

Kenya's National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) last week gave Facebook one week to comply with regulations against ethnic hate speech or risk suspension.

The threat came after a report by rights group Global Witness said Facebook approved hate speech advertisements that promoted ethnic violence ahead of the election.

But Kenya's Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi accused the NCIC of making what he termed a careless decision on the matter.

He assured the public that the platform would not be shut down.

Kenya's Minister of Information and Technology Joe Mucheru echoed that vow to VOA in a telephone interview Monday.

He said while the issues raised were valid, they did not warrant blocking Facebook.

"That is not within our legal mandate, and we have been working with Facebook and many other platforms," Muchera said. "Facebook for example has in this electioneering period has deleted over 37,000 inflammatory comments."

In a statement last week, Facebook admitted having missed hate speech messages in Kenya, where national data shows an estimated 13 million users of the platform.

A spokesperson for Facebook's parent company, Meta, blamed human and machine error for missing some inflammatory content and said they had taken steps to prevent such content.

Kenya's cohesion commission said this year's election had seen less in-person hate speech as it migrated from political rallies to social media.

It said the main perpetrators were followers of Kenya's two leading presidential candidates -- former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto.

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