In the today’s high-tech world, it is unthinkable for someone not to have a phone. But you’ll still find people who choose not to have one – not because they can’t afford but they just feel they don’t need it.
Still, in the virtual world that technologies have created, social media has become a new play ground that has provided offices, homes and even social as well as spiritual sanctuaries for different people. And, yes, some people just don’t find it their thing even when millions have made it part of their lives.
One of them is S.K. Macharia, the founder and chairman of Royal Media Services, the company that owns Citizen TV and a host of other radio stations. RSM is the largest TV and radio network in Kenya, with three TV stations and just over a dozen radio outlets.
Samuel Kamau (SK) Macharia, for your information, has a smartphone – perhaps the most sophisticated money can buy given his stable financial status. But he won’t just get to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or even LinkedIn, yet.
Recently, Twitter and Facebook accounts emerged with his name and photos, and Kenyans followed it believing it’s the SK of Royal Media Services. That’s when he came out and explained that he is not the owner of those accounts. In fact, he said, he doesn’t have any social media accounts!
S.K. Macharia is now 80 years old and he can be excused for not being tech-savvy, social media-wise. But there are many older guys on social media, especially Twitter and LinkedIn which have attracted more mature fans.
Royal Media Services released a statement disowning these accounts. “This is to inform the general public that Dr S.K. Macharia, Chairman of Royal Media Services, does not have any social media accounts on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media platforms. Kindly disregard any messages or requests received from these online fraudsters. Also do not open any messages or links coming from them,” it said.
It is, after all, his choice to avoid the crowded and fickle world of social media where posting just a ‘?’ (a question mark) can raise many questions and posting nothing can raise eyebrows as well. Being on social media comes at a cost: having to actively monitor your account just in case someone comments or even hacks it.
Meanwhile, imposters often use prominent people’s names and photos – an known technically as identity thèft – to attract followers, which is the currency of social media. Once they get enough followers and/or fans, they change their profiles into their genuine names and begin to monetize the accounts. Others are pure cons who use the accounts to defraud unsuspecting friends and relatives of the person whose identity they have stolen.
One of S.K. Macharia’s imposters has amassed over 17,000 followers in just 5 months, not an easy fete. Most prominent Kenyans have been víctims of social media impersonation including politicians Raila Odinga, William Ruto, Mike Sonko, President Uhuru Kenyatta, the late Chris Kirubi, as well as media personalities such as Jeff Koinange, Lillian Muli and so on.
In 2019, seven men impersonating President Uhuru Kenyatta using a mobile phone line and Whatsapp squeezed Ksh10 million from the late businessman Naushad Merali. The seven young men were arrested and later charged for impersonating President Uhuru to secure Ksh80 million facilitation fee for a land deal in Nairobi’s Milimani area. The cover was blown after the man sent by Merali to execute the deal got suspicious after sending the first Ksh10 million.
So as social media user, be very careful when dealing with accounts of prominent people. It may not be the real S.K. Macharia offering to give you a job at Citizen TV or to sell you broadcast equipment.