On Tuesday 9th August, Kenyan voters will head to the polls for the 2022 General Elections. In a digital era, we cannot underplay the role of social media in enhancing or undermining democratic rights during this period.
Social media companies have upped their game this time, to play a positive role in the elections that are coming up. Here is how TikTok, Twitter, and Meta have prepared themselves for Kenya’s 2022 General elections.
Twitter has taken advantage of the local partnerships they have to ensure the debate on Twitter is healthy, open, and safe. One such partner is Africa Check; a nonpartisan fact-checking organization that debunks dangerous statements. This work is key to protecting the election conversation while also building a culture of fact-checking.
To complement this, the company will label Tweets that contain false or misleading information that undermines confidence in the election. Tweets that are labeled under this policy will therefore have reduced visibility
Additionally, Twitter has launched an election prompt in collaboration with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in both English and Swahili. The search directs people in Kenya to IEBC’s website to access credible information about the elections when searching for keywords on Twitter.
Mid-July, TikTok launched an in-app guide to the 2022 General elections product features. They also hosted in-market activities to help TikTok users access factual and authoritative information about the Kenyan general elections.
These efforts are part of their commitment to curb misinformation and ensure that information is disseminated responsibly. They encourage the TikTok community to be a part of the campaign by reporting harmful content that seems untrue and fuels any political intolerance.
Meta has established operations centers for major elections around the world since 2018, including in Kenya. With the help of a team of experts in Kenya, they are preparing to respond to potential problems and abuse that might emerge in the country.
The company has also built more advanced detection technology. Coupled with content reviewers and user reports, Meta can take action on pieces of content that violate their Hate Speech policies on Facebook and Instagram in Kenya. Further, they have strict Violence & Incitement policies and prompt action will be taken on any content violating these policies.
To reduce misinformation and lower the risk of problematic content, Meta has as well temporarily reduced the distribution of content from those who have repeatedly violated their policies. They have partnered with independent third-party fact-checkers in Kenya — AFP, Pesa Check, and Africa Check. These will review content in both English and Swahili. When a piece of content is reviewed and rated as false, they plan to reduce its distribution and add a warning label with additional information.
To avoid a Cambridge Analytica moment, advertisers who want to run political ads in Kenya must undergo a process to verify their identity and that they live in Kenya. People can also personalize their feeds and choose to see fewer political ads.