Tech giant Meta has pulled down thousands of posts targeting Kenyan users on its social media platform Facebook for violating its policies days before the August general elections.
A few years ago, bosses at the now-defunct British consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica were apparently filmed boasting of the control they had exerted in Kenya’s disputed 2017 presidential poll, and their company was accused of mining Kenyans’ personal data on Facebook to aid incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta win.
In a fresh report, Facebook now says that it has deleted over 37,000 posts for promoting hate speech and 42,000 for violating its violence and incitement policies, in the six months leading up to 30 April.
The social media platform also notes that it has rejected 36,000 political adverts for not complying with its transparency rules.
Facebook confirms that it has partnered with independent fact-checkers in Kenya to debunk misinformation ahead of the August polls.
Its director of public policy for East and Horn of Africa, Mercy Ndegwa, says they have enhanced controls on their platforms that will make it easy to identify and remove content that could lead to election-related violence.
Meta social media platforms play an important role in civic discussions around the world, including Kenya, where the August 9 elections currently dominates discussions.
“To reduce misinformation and lower the risk of problematic content in Kenya ahead of and during the elections, Meta is temporarily reducing the distribution of content across Facebook and Instagram from those who have repeatedly or severely violated its policies,” Ndegwa said.
Content that aims to suppress voting or could contribute to violence or physical harm will also be restricted.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has previously sounded an alarm that social media platforms and blogs can be used to propagate misinformation during the elections.
The social media company has also limited forward messages on its Messenger platform to five people or groups at a time, following a similar move in 2021 that limited WhatsApp message to one chat leading to a 70 per cent drop in the number of highly forwarded messages on the chatting and business application.