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Kenya Threatens to Suspend Facebook Due to Hate Speech

(BBC) According to a government agency, Facebook in Kenya faces suspension if it does not abide by rules designed to stop the spread of hate speech.

Prior to next month’s elections, the National Integration and Cohesion Commission (NCIC) claims it has written to Meta, the corporation that owns Facebook, asking a response to claims of lax controls in content moderation on its platform.

The NCIC formed in response to research by advocacy organizations Global Witness and Foxglove that found that Facebook has struggled to monitor content on its platform because of lax restrictions.

“If Facebook doesn’t comply with requirements we have set out within seven days, we will recommend they suspend their operations. We will not allow Facebook to jeopardise our national security”, NCIC’s Dr David Makori said.

The commission, which was set up in the wake of the violence that followed the 2007 election, is not empowered to suspend Facebook; instead, in the event that the company disobeys legal requirements, it may only offer suggestions to the relevant authorities.

According to the Global Witness and Foxglove research, the social media behemoth overlooked provocative content adverts on its site that were published in both English and Swahili.

Twenty ads that were originally used in the 2007 elections and contained hate speech in both English and Swahili were submitted by researchers as part of the examination.

According to the report, all but one of the submitted commercials were accepted.

One in English was disallowed because it didn’t adhere to Facebook’s policies on hate speech.

Global Witness claims that the advertisements were never posted on Facebook, but they were worried about how they got there undetected.

Facebook hasn’t commented on the report’s conclusions.

In the months leading up to the August election, the technology company reportedly removed 37,000 accounts for encouraging hate speech and 42,000 for breaking its laws against inciting violence.

The social media site added that it has turned down 36,000 political advertisements because they did not follow its transparency guidelines.

Mercy Ndegwa, Facebook’s Director of Public Policy for the East and Horn of Africa, claimed that the social media network now has improved controls that would make it simpler to find and delete anything that can incite violence during elections.

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