The National Security Advisory Council (NSAC) chaired by the Head of Public Service, Dr Joseph Kinyua, has today sent out a stern warning to individuals misusing their social media, by using their platforms to utter hate and incite violence. This is after chaos erupted at a political rally in Kenol, Muranga County, leading to the death of two individuals.
Speaking on the nation’s state of security, Dr Kinyua warned that, all social media users shall be individually liable for all content on their social media profiles, and therefore rolled out responsibilities to be undertaken by the Kenyan Media and social media users across all platforms.
— The Standard Digital (@StandardKenya) October 7, 2020
Among the rules that social media users are required to adhere include that all content should be written in a language that avoids a tone and words that constitute hate speech, ethnic contempt, incitement to violence, harassment, defamation, abuse or intimidation.
Social media users are also required to authenticate and validate sources of messages, for truthfulness and context to limit rumours, before forwarding or sharing them. Administrators of social media platforms are also mandated to moderate and control “undesirable” content and discussions that have been brought to their attention.
According to a media statement by the government, the NSAC noted that the country is experiencing growing political tension that is creating division and polarizing the country along ethnopolitical lines.
Further, it says, ” The unchecked utterances and political weaponization of public gatherings continue to undermine law and order within the country. This disregard of the law has triggered violent confrontations among different groupings, thus threatening national security.”
While some have lauded the government on the step to national cohesion, a section of Kenyans online have come out strongly to oppose the move by the NSAC terming it as a violation of freedom of expression and the media. Some, like Senator for Elgeyo-Marakwet County, have questioned the legality of the NSAC terming it as political.
The statement is a threat to freedom of free speech and democracy. Sections 22 and 23 of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, however, have provisions on false publications of information, that is misleading, alarming or fictitious. If anyone is found guilty, they will be liable to a fine not exceeding five million shillings, or a term not exceeding ten years or both.
Below are some of their reactions.
The Statement by National Security council chairman, Joseph Kinyua will bring peace in kenya. Ruto should STOP earlier campaigns since they have been causing chaos/violence all over.
— MARIGIRI🇰🇪 (@Dmarigiri_) October 7, 2020
Effectively, Kenyans being told to 'zip it' to prevent 'animosity'. Freedom of speech suffers. Democracy suffers. And the UNDERLYING issues that people are unhappy about…that Kinyua doesn't want people to discuss candidly…will not go away through silence!
— Kosgei (@Kosgei) October 7, 2020
I find Joseph Kinyua’s statement full of Hate and bile.
He needs to be the first one to be arrested.
Arrest Joseph Kinyua for attempting to curtail freedom of speech and spreading negative vibes on National media.
— Yvonne (@Yvonne79566268) October 7, 2020