Kenyan ministers back Facebook despite government agency’s ultimatum | Social Media News

Kenya’s ICT and interior ministers have rallied behind Meta’s Facebook as the hate speech controversy rages on.

Kenya has no plans to shut down Facebook, which is owned by Meta, the Minister of Information, Communications and Telecommunications (ICT) has said after the National Cohesion watchdog was given seven days to the platform to comply with hate speech rules or face suspension.

The National Cohesion and Inclusion Commission (NCIC) on Friday accused Facebook of breaching the constitution and laws of Kenya for failing to combat hate speech and incitement on the platform ahead of the national elections on 9 august.

“We have no intention of shutting down any of these platforms,” ​​ICT Minister Joe Mucheru told Reuters on Monday. “Freedom of the press is something we cherish, whether [traditional] media or social networks. »

His statement echoes that of Home Secretary Fred Matiangi, who accused the NCIC of making haphazard decisions over the weekend, and promised the platform would not be shut down.

“They (INCC) should have consulted widely because they don’t have the power to shut anyone down. They don’t license anyone,” Mucheru said.

When issuing its ultimatum, the NCIC said it was consulting with the Communications Authority of Kenya, which regulates the industry, adding that it would recommend that Facebook’s operations be suspended if it did not comply.

Meta has taken “significant steps” to eliminate hate speech and inflammatory content, and is stepping up those efforts ahead of the election, a company spokesperson told Reuters.

Mucheru agreed, adding that the platform removed 37,000 posts related to hate speech during the election period.

Supporters of the main presidential candidates, veteran opposition Raila Odinga and Vice President William Ruto, have used social media platforms to praise their candidates, persuade others to join them or accuse opposing parties of various misdeeds.

Some of Kenya’s 45 ethnic groups have been targeted in violence in previous polls, but Mucheru said this election was different and the country was enjoying peace and calm despite heightened political activity.