Meta has shared the steps it has been undertaking in order to ensure the integrity of the upcoming general elections in Kenya.

Meta operates and owns digital Social platforms that are very popular in Kenya and have been used in the past to spread political material, including misinformation and propaganda. They include WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram.

The steps it has taken is inspired from its experience in supporting elections in different parts of the world. Meta has been working closely with elections authorities and trusted partners in countries facing elections to customise its strategies and take appropriate steps to stay ahead of emerging threats and make sure it is prepared long before people cast their votes.

Commenting on the efforts around election integrity in Kenya, Meta Public Policy Director for East Africa and Horn of Africa Mercy Ndegwa said, “We know we have an important responsibility when it comes to helping people participate in elections and to ensure safe, secure, and free elections. Using lessons from the past and input from experts and policymakers across the political spectrum, we’ve made substantial investments in people and technology to reduce misinformation, remove harmful content on our platforms, fight voter interference and promote civic engagement during the elections.“

Some of Meta interventions with the Kenya elections include;-

  • Creation of a cross-functional team spread across the world that is dedicated to the Kenya elections, which includes Kenyans and people who have spent significant amounts of time in the country, as we recognise that local understanding is critical. The team also includes individuals with global expertise in topics like misinformation, hate speech, elections and disinformation. These teams are working to prevent any abuse of Meta’s services before, during and after Kenya’s 2022 general election. Locally, they also have permanent staff who reside in Kenya and work in the public policy, public policy programmes, communications and product teams.
  • Prioritising the safety of people especially during elections through the guidance of our Community Standards that define what is and isn’t allowed on our service in order to keep people safe, while also protecting free expression.
  • Decreasing the risk of problematic content going viral in Kenya and potentially inciting violence or hatred ahead of or during the election by temporarily reducing the distribution of content from individuals who have repeatedly or severely violated our policies so fewer people see it.
  • Taking steps to fight the spread of misinformation on our services in Kenya, by removing misinformation which could lead to imminent violence or physical harm and working with through fact-checking partners in Kenya (AFP, Africa Check and PesaCheck) to review and rate potentially false content on our platforms, label it, and place it lower in our feed, so fewer people see it.
  • Making political ads more transparent with anybody seeking to run political ads in Kenya now required to undergo a verification process to prove who they are and that they live in Kenya. These ads are labelled with a disclaimer, so you can see who paid for them and stored them in our public Ads Library for seven years, so that everyone can see what ads are running, what types of people saw them and how much was spent. Kenyan can also choose not to see any of these political ads which run with a disclaimer.
  • Fighting voter interference that are working to stop coordinated inauthentic behaviour where sophisticated networks of Pages, Groups and accounts are used to try and manipulate public debate. Since 2017, they have removed over 150 networks around the world for coordinated inauthentic behaviour including ahead of major elections around the world.
  • Promoting civic engagement so that Kenyans have accurate information about how and when to vote. They will be an I Voted sticker on Instagram in Kenya and on the day of the election, through our elections day reminder, remind Kenyans that it’s time to vote with a notification on top of their Facebook News Feed.
  • Supporting digital literacy in Kenya through partnerships in programs such as “My Digital World” to improve digital and media literacy and raise awareness amongst the youth, teachers, parents, guardians on topics such as online safety, privacy, digital citizenship, news and media literacy delivered through live instructor-led and in-person/hybrid sessions. Through partnership with iEARN Kenya, they are supporting teachers and parents by providing training sessions with the aim of equipping them with knowledge, skills and competencies necessary to guide their learners on how to navigate the digital world responsibly and safely. They shall educate the public on how to identify and not share hate speech and misinformation on our platforms through online ads on Facebook and by running radio ads on national and vernacular radio stations.