Kenya: Facebook Approved Hate Speech Calling for Ethnic Violence in Kenya – Report

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Nairobi — Kenyan authorities have called on Facebook to do more to rid the platform of hate speech ahead of the August 9 general election. Rights group Global Witness said the social media company approved hate speech advertisements promoting ethnic violence.

Research has shown how social media has played a destructive role in elections worldwide, enabling parties and individuals to stoke unrest by disseminating hateful speech and misinformation.

Global Witness set out to study whether the biggest social media platform, Facebook, was able to detect hateful and inciteful messages concerning Kenya’s election — and whether Facebook was prepared to deal with the haters and those spreading fear.

In June, Global Witness submitted 10 ads in English and 10 in Swahili that contained hate speech.

The senior adviser of the organization, Jon Lloyd, said the hateful messages were approved.

Lloyd said Global Witness submitted batches of three to four advertisements. The first ads submitted were in Swahili, with the assumption that Facebook would have weaker controls in Swahili than it would in English.

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All the Swahili ads were accepted without issue, Lloyd said, often within a few hours. Three English ads were initially rejected for a violation of Facebook’s grammar profanity policy, Lloyd said.

“We were invited to amend the ads and resubmit them,” he said.

Lloyd said they made adjustments to correct the grammar and profanity and the ads were accepted.