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Whatsapp admins face jail in crackdown to curb hate-speech

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WHAT's UP? As the clock ticks to elections, many Kenyans are sharing political notes on social media, especially Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter, with some bordering on hate speech.

Are you a Whatsapp group admin? You better watch out what group members post and discussion at any moment.

The government has issued a warning for administrators of Whatsapp groups against propagating hate speech, saying they could end up being arrested. “Tell administrators propagating hate speech, we are coming for them,” said Francis Ole Kaparo, Chairman National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), who added that police are already hunting for 12 Whatsapp administrator for arrest and possible prosecution.

He was speaking during a forum on peace as the country heads to a crucial general election in August. He said NCIC has identified 21 platforms that encourage incitement through the Whatsapp social media platform. As the clock ticks to elections, many Kenyans are sharing political notes on social media, especially Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter, with some bordering on hate speech.

This will put pressure on admins for various groups on Whatsapp and Facebook to keep moderating content, even late into the night. The aim, it seems, is to have some admins who do not wish to run the risk of falling afoul the law close their groups, although NCIC did not specify under which law such admins would be prosecuted.

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He further warned the social media users that a mega operation to weed out hate mongers will be conducted throughout the month and during the elections period. This is in a bid to ensure that a section of the population doesn’t use hate speech to ignite tribal sentiments and clashes

However, Kenyans are not moved by the threats from the commission as they claim that it has failed to tackle hate speech cases involving politicians. They claim that it is a bias to turn against them when the commission has failed in to prosecute politicians, accused of making inflammatory remarks.

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“Heckling is a recipe for chaos, it is stupid and outdated,” he said. Heckling has been reported in various parts of the country, most recently in Thika and Kisumu where NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto were on the receiving end of crowd trouble.

Raila had to end the rally immediately after stones started flying while Mr Ruto had to give the microphone to President Uhuru Kenyatta to address the residents and calm them down. He urged the police to use necessary force to ensure that Kenyans are safe.

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