WhatsApp admins in Kenya put on notice over hate speech

NCIC Chair, Francis Ole Kaparo
NCIC Chair, Francis Ole Kaparo addressing a past press conference.

National Cohesion and Integration Commission chairperson Francis Ole Kaparo has warned that the government will crack down on social media account administrators who post messages that are likely to cause unnecessary anxiety in the build up to the election period.

Speaking during a Mkenya Daima peaceful poll campaign forum organized by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance(KEPSA), Kaparo said that WhatsApp administrators are responsible for hate messages posted on their group.

“Just last week we had a case where someone posted a message profiling a certain community. We are working with the police and we will crackdown and net such individuals. We have identified 21 WhatsApp accounts that have been encouraging incitement and hate speech across the country. We are dealing with them and the only way to counter this vice is to track down the administrators of these accounts,” Kaparo said.

The former National Assembly Speaker fired a warning to administrators, saying that the government will not hesitate to shut down the accounts in question if need be.

“Fellow Kenyans, I want to appeal to you to respect constitutional institutions, stop cannibalizing them. Give the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) room to deliver a credible election. Don’t judge the commission before the election date and this is a problem we have been having for an year,” the NCIC boss pleaded.

Kaparo also called on the media to aid the commission’s cause by ensuring proper gatekeeping of their content.

His sentiments were echoed by Communications Authority Director General who said that the authority is working with the relevant stake holders to ensure that the country holds a peaceful election.

“We are keeping tabs on all communication platforms right from telecommunications to media platforms to ensure that people do not abuse their right to access of information. We will make sure that the internet is up and running but we will crack down on hate mongers,” Wangusi said.

KEPSA chairperson Vimal Shah said that the purpose of the meeting was to gauge the preparedness of the different bodies for the election.

“Ultimately Kenyans will vote and will go back to work. I want to appeal to every Kenyan to stand up and shun violence. 21 days is enough time to get the peace message to the grassroots. This week we have had the IAAF championships in the country when a Kenyan won the victory is for all of us therefore we urge Kenyans to embrace peace in different parts of the country.” Mr Shah said.

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