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Watch out: WhatsApp admins will be accountable for hate speech in their groups

by Dennis Mathu
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We are only a few weeks to the elections and government bodies and others from the private sector are working to make sure peace is maintained. During an election preparedness meeting today, the National Cohesion and Intergration Commission(NCIC) together with the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) announced that they will be tough on WhatsApp group admins that let their users spread hate speech.

The law on social media platform administrators

In fact, Mr Wangusi of CAK said that, 21 groups have already been identified to be guilty and that their administrators have been ordered to take action before the law deals with them.  He also said that CAK’s monitors have been deployed to sort through social media, communication gadgets, and even the news media to sieve out hate speech and deal with those found guilty.

Ole Kaparu also emphasized Mr Wangusi’s message, however, the Twitter community had its own views. The #WhatsAppAdmins had been trending for the better part of the day after the announcement. Most people were tweeting that political leaders are the biggest spreaders of hate speech yet no action is being taken on them. Other people were feeling that their right of speech was being denied. Of course, in typical Kenyan fashion, memes and funny texts were posted as well.

More questions were raised than answers provided, some asked what would happen to the groups that have all their members as admins? Also, if a politically incorrect text is posted when the admin is offline and he or she is not notified, will the government still proceed with persecution? These are just a few of those questions Kenyans posed on Twitter, feel free to search the hashtag for more.

Similar law in India

It remains unclear how the government will monitor WhatsApp texts since they are encrypted. Perhaps they will borrow a leaf from the Indian government where a similar law exists. Ultimately, we hope that peace prevails through-out the weeks leading to election and beyond.


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