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Facebook groups earmarked for shut down

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The government may consider shutting off social media during the August 8 General Election in the event it threatens the country’s peace and stability.

National Cohesion and Integration Commission Chairman Francis Kaparo has revealed the number and names of social media groups the commission is monitoring ahead of the August 8 election. [see list below]

On Thursday, July 13, Kaparo revealed that the groups include 12 national ones and 36 county based WhatsApp groups. In total, 176 social media pages and groups are being monitored. Kaparo said the forums are being used to spread hate-speech, manifested in ethnic profiling and stirring of tribal animosity.

Mr Kaparo the government may consider shutting off social media during the August 8 General Election in the event it threatens the country’s peace and stability. He said they are already working with the Communications Authority to identify possible threats posed by social media platforms, besides cracking down on irresponsible users.

RELATED: Whatsapp admins to be thrown in prison in Kenya

“If it is necessary, the social media sites will be shut out. So that is my stand and I believe that is what ought to be,” Kaparo told a forum on election preparedness, bringing together police chefs, judiciary officials, the NCIC and the Communication Authority.”

The move is aimed at preventing a repeat of the 2007 post election violence which was largely blamed on incitement – including on social media. More than 1,100 people were killed and more than 600,000 others displaced mainly in Rift Valley, Nyanza, Nairobi and parts of Central Province. The campaign have shown strong signs of violence and EU commissioners recently warned that violence would be witnessed after the elections.

Communications Authority of Kenya Director General Francis Wangusi has however, assured that the internet will not be closed, but urged users to be responsible at all times.

SEE ALSO: Six ways to stay safe during the elections

“You cannot hide anywhere even on social media, without us physically tracing where you are, so we have that capability and we are not unfortunately thinking of doing what people have been going around saying that we shall shut off the internet. We are unlikely to do that and we are going to make sure that the internet is up and running for Kenyans to exercise information but don’t misuse it as a platform to convey your own results,” he said.

Interior acting Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi too assured that the ministry has prepared a national security plan to aid security forces in providing security before, during and after the General Election.

Below is the list of some of the groups being monitored:

  1. Uasin Gishu county forum
  2. Kapseret Constituency forum
  3. Uasin Gishu County discussion forum
  4. The New Marsabit County for all
  5. Bunge la Busia
  6. Migori Revisionists Council
  7. Meru economic and political Facebook forum
  8. Jubilee Party suporters
  9. NASA politics and citizens
  10. Langas Yetu
  11. Voices of Change
  12. Kenya political forum

The listing of these groups comes days after the National Police unveiled 10 hotspots they are monitoring ahead of the election. The area earmarked include: Landhies Road, Umoja, Kariobangi, Dandora, Kayole, Kiambiu, Githogoro, Kibera, Mathare Mukuru slums, Dagorretti, Kawangware, Buruburu, Globe Cinema, Kangemi, Ngara, Marurui and Korogocho as main points of interest.

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