UNESCO Supports Expert workshop on Addressing Hate Speech and Misinformation on Social Media in Kenya

While social media platforms can exacerbate the spread of disinformation, hate narratives, discrimination, and polarization, it can also be used to curb harm, de-escalate divisive emotions, provide additional perspectives, link distributed communities, share resources, and be a place for constructive conversations.

On 30 March 2022, UNESCO and Build Up held an expert workshop to discuss outcomes of outcome of research work supported by the Social Media 4 Peace project on the root causes, scale and impact of harmful content and existing legal mechanisms that would help curb hate speech, misinformation and social media platforms in Kenya.

At the opening of the workshop, Ms. Katrine Hagemann, Deputy Head of Delegation of the EU in Kenya stated:

The EU is pleased to be part of this innovative project by UNESCO that will help understand of the root causes, scale and impact of potentially harmful content and remedial measures to put in place to curb it. It is therefore vital for citizens including young people to exercise responsibility while using digital platforms as hate narratives and disinformation can have devastating effect to democracy and peace in Kenya.

Ms. Katrine Hagemann, Deputy Head of Delegation of the EU in Kenya

Ms. Adeline Hulin,  Coordinator of the project Social Media 4 Peace at UNESCO Brussels indicated that:

After months dedicated to research work on the current state of content moderation in Kenya and the legal framework for harmful online content, today is an important milestone for the project Social Media 4 Peace to learn about the outcomes of these researches and discuss them with our project partners and relevant stakeholders.

Ms. Adeline Hulin,  Coordinator of the project Social Media 4 Peace at UNESCO Brussels

Ms. Catherine Muya, Article 19 EA presented key research findings on content moderation by social media companies indicating that:

Research shows that there is a lack of understanding of specific cultural and societal settings, and even of local languages. Content rules are not easy to access, and are not available in local languages. It is therefore important to set up mechanisms that would allow users to raise concerns or appeal takedowns as complex, slow and ineffective.

Ms. Catherine Muya, Article 19 EA

During the workshop, Caleb Gichuhi, Africa Lead, and Kate Mytty, Associate, from Build Up took participants through main presentation of study in which they presented the gaps and the opportunities that exist within the rule of law tools in Kenya against harmful content online. The presentations further explored existing dynamics and opportunities for addressing hate speech, misinformation and disinformation through national and international legislation, social media platforms, and civil society responses.

Ms. Amina Attar from META took participants through a presentation of Meta’s community standards developed to address the spread of hateful content and misinformation within their social media platforms.

The workshop provided participants with an opportunity to engage with technology partners, peace builders, and UNESCO on issues related to peace building. . Some of the issues discussed ranged from transparency by technology companies, how they regulate harmful content online; government response to harmful content especially when perpetrated by political leaders, the role of civil society in tackling hate narratives and disinformation among others.

The workshop attracted participation of 40 participants drawn from line government ministries such as  Ministry of Interior and coordination, technology companies, civil society organizations, academia, International NGOs, UNRC, UNESCO and the Delegation of European Union in Kenya.