THE KENYAN CYBER-LAW ACT – prohibits LIES, SLANDER, HATE-SPEECH all of which are criminal and punishable offenses. This applies to individuals in Kenya!
Kenya is in an election year and the country is facing election uprisings that will spells danger for many, and especially the most vulnerable, to include refugees, and more especially the unwelcome LGBTQI refugees seeking protection from violence. Facebook seems to be participating in the dangers that people in Kenya face.
On the 9th of August Kenyans will go to the polls for general elections, which are expected to be tightly contested and bitterly fought. While the situation in Kenya has improved in many respects, it remains a volatile political landscape and the risks are real. Given Kenya’s recent history of electoral violence and the “polarised, ethnically driven and personalist politics” of the country, it remains vulnerable to unrest. Some of the worst violence occurred after the 2007 elections, when tribal tensions were laid bare after inflammatory electoral campaigns and a disputed result. As many as 1,300 people were killed and hundreds of thousands fled their homes. Facebook is now under fire for having approved paid ads promoting ethnic violence in connection with the country’s elections.
Rights group Global Witness submitted that FB accepted ads with hate speech in both English and Swahili. After it was publicized that Facebook accepted the ads, Kenyan authorities have called on Facebook to better police hate speech or face suspension:
GLOBAL WITNESS: Despite the risk of violence around the upcoming Kenyan election, our new investigation conducted in partnership with legal non-profit Foxglove finds Facebook appallingly failed to detect hate speech ads in the two official languages of the country: Swahili and English.
This follows a similar pattern we uncovered in Myanmar and Ethiopia, but for the first time also raises serious questions about Facebook’s content moderation capabilities in English.
Facebook itself has praised its “super-efficient AI models to detect hate speech” but our findings are a stark reminder of the risk of hate and incitement to violence on their platform. Even worse, in the lead up to a high stakes election, this is a time you would expect Facebook’s systems to be even more primed for safety. In the backdrop of elections, it is even more important for us to detect potential hate speech and prevent it from spreading.
Many refugees in Kenya, including Kakuma Camp, rely on Facebook as a mechanism for communication with funders, supporters, services, resources and a suspension could be a great loss for those who use the platform appropriately. On the other hand Facebook is also abused as used opportunistically for nefarious activities such as opportunistic fraudulent and corrupt fundraising, defamation and slander to further nefarious activities.
Unlike the U.S.A. HATE SPEECH is not constitutionally protected in Kenya
THE KENYAN CYBER-LAW ACT – prohibits LIES, SLANDER, HATE-SPEECH all of which are criminal and punishable offenses. Those who slander others with made up defamatory comments – bear the ONUS OF PROOF that what they are saying is truthful. Failing this these crimes are punishable. THIS LAW APPLIES to everyone in Kenya. Hopefully Facebook will hire actual humans during this time rather than to continue to dangerously rely on algorithms which are nor serving health and safety of the most marginalized of communities.
ADVISORY: LGBTQI+ People should remain calm and at the same time should seriously invest in emergency preparedness to include self security, “laying low.” during this period of time. LGBTQI+ people seeking protection in Kenya must remember that Kenya is also a country that criminalizes them, in the same manner as the countries that they have fled, and thus is a ‘hostile host’ country. Protests by LGBTQI+ individuals in the country, asserting refugee entitlement of any kind, notwithstanding refugee law, is most precarious. Any so called well-wisher / activist from America or other Occidental lands who continues to encourage or support protest in Kenya will have blood on their hands. The type of ignorance we are seeing from those who do not know Kenya law or landscape, or who do not understand this complex milieu is unconscionable, especially considering the fact that those very people are living safely in their American homes, without any recourse for the damage they provoke.
EMERGENCY FUND – ELECTION PERIOD: www.africanHRC.org/donate