August elections: KHRC wants Facebook held responsible for hate speech on its platform
The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) has started an
online petition to hold Facebook's mother company, META, accountable for any
fake news and inciteful messages that may be spread on the platform during the electioneering period.
This comes almost one week after the National Cohesion and Integration Committee (NCIC) last week threatened to suspend Facebook for its apparent lack of adherence to the hate speech regulations spelt out by the Government body.
Despite ceding that incidences of hate speech and general incitement have considerably lessened in Kenya during this electioneering period, KHRC notes that Facebook comes in second behind Tiktok in terms of having high volumes of hate speech and inciteful messages on its space among social media platforms available in the country.
WhatsApp and Telegram are third and fourth respectively according to KHRC.
"A majority of Kenyans on social media use Facebook, estimated between 10 and 12 million Kenyans daily. So, the impact of the Meta-owned platform at this crucial time of our elections when the probability for violence is high, cannot be overstated," KHRC said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Secondly, Facebook is a leading brand, with Meta being a member of the prestigious “Big Tech” companies that are defining cultures and economies, even though they are not democratically elected by any citizens in any country."
KHRC now wants META to implement an extensive list of ‘Break the Glass’ measures taken by Facebook during other electoral crises to protect the election in Kenya.
According to KHRC, this involves Facebook explaining everything it knows about hate speech and incitement messages and making specific software changes to ensure hate speech and incitement content do not go viral on its platform.
"Facebook lacks basic information about what users are saying and has not invested in training ‘classifiers’ – automated filters that try to detect political content, hate speech or violent incitement," said KHRC.
"It is possible to distribute content differently – to dial down the ‘viral’ pushes that Facebook’s default systems give and that can help hate and violence to spread during a crisis."
According to KHRC, if Kenyans compel Facebook to take action and invest more in protecting Kenya's democracy and keeping Kenyans safe while using their platform, other Big tech companies will follow suit.
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