ICT Innovation and Youth Affairs Cabinet Secretary (CS) Joe Mucheru has ruled out the possibility of shutting down the internet or suspending Facebook ahead of the General Elections.
According to Mucheru, media, including social media, will continue to enjoy press freedom in Kenya.
“Not clear what legal framework NCIC plans to use to suspend Facebook. Government is on record. We are not shutting down the Internet,” he said.
The CS was responding to threats of the National Cohesion and Integration Committee (NCIC) to have Meta Inc’s Facebook suspended in Kenya for failing to adhere to hate speech regulations.
Speaking to the press, NCIC Commissioner Danvas Makori lamented what he said was Facebook’s failure to follow through with the regulations suggested by the anti-hate speech body.
“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.
He also cited its reported refusal to have peace messages published by NCIC be hosted on the social networking platform.
Makori, who was speaking at an event titled ‘Hate Speech on Facebook in Kenya,’ said attempts by the commission to publish and push peace messages on Facebook have been suppressed and that the social media platform has been allowing hate speech to be freely spread across the networking site.
“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,” he said.
“We cannot even sponsor posts, we are unable to boost our posts yet Facebook has continuously allowed hate speech to be spread across the platform. The only way to fight hate speech is by introducing peace messages yet we cannot do that despite the fact that we are a Government agency that is clearly spreading authorised messages and not propaganda.” He added.
Makori further said that Kenya was bigger than any politician and any multinational corporation, adding that suspending Facebook in Kenya would be a measure the NCIC would not hesitate to take for the sake of the country and the peace of the nation.