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CS Mucheru responds to NCIC on Facebook shutdown

NCIC said its peace messages on the platform were being suppressed yet hate speech was freely roaming

Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology CS Joe Mucheru during the launch of Google Connectivity Projects for the Law Courts on July 18, 2022

Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru has responded to the threats by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) to shut down Facebook during the August 2022 elections.

Mucheru said the media will not be denied its freedom and there was no legality in suspending the platform.

“Media, including social media, will continue to enjoy press freedom in Kenya. Not clear what legal framework NCIC plans to use to suspend Facebook. The government is on record. We are NOT shutting down the internet,” said CS Mucheru.

NCIC on Friday raised flags on the Meta Platform's ability to detect hate speech online with the elections just days away.

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NCIC Commissioner Danvas Makori said efforts by the commission to push peace messages have been futile yet hate speech has been dominant in the platform which is the most used in the country.

"We are a government agency. We have been trying to push peace messages on Facebook but Facebook has been suppressing them. We have been unable to fight hate speech online because Facebook has refused to allow us to publish these messages,” Makori lamented.

Makori said the commission was going to push for a suspension of the operations of the platform in Kenya should there be no immediate response to the issue it has raised. He insisted that the commission was not going to allow Facebook to jeopardize national security.

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"We have written to Facebook and requested that they comply with the regulatory requirements we put across. If Facebook fails to do that, we will recommend that Facebook services be suspended in Kenya. Facebook has seven days to reply to us, failure to which we take the action of suspension immediately," Makori said.

NCIC was reacting to a report shared by Global Witness – an international Non-Governmental Organization that indicated Facebook doesn't have the capacity to ensure that the safety guidelines it has set are adhered to.

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