Kenya’s elections are just a few weeks away but before the people even select a President, there is a new ruler in town; Fake News. Citizens are being swamped with fake news from all corners according to the results of a nationwide study which showed that about 90% of Kenyans have seen or heard false news about the upcoming general election.
The study into the spread of fake news in Kenya began in May and about 2,000 Kenyans were respondents via SMS. The results showed that 87% of respondents regarded the news as being deliberately misleading – or fake.
The frequency of this fake news problem in Kenya is becoming even more as less than 20 days separate the people from the polls. There is now a flood of false stories from websites set up with the aim of misleading Kenyans with their propaganda.
From the collaboration between strategic communications consultancy Portland and GeoPoll, a mobile surveying platform here are the survey highlights;
- 90% of respondents reported having seen false or inaccurate news in relation to the general election. 87% of respondents regarded this news as being deliberately misleading – or fake news
- Traditional media remain the most trusted news sources, with television ranked most highly, followed by radio and newspapers
- Radio is the most consistently accessed source of news in Kenya, with the smallest variation between different regions across the country
- Social media is widely used by Kenyans of all ages to access news, with 49% of Kenyans using social platforms to access general election news. However, social media consistently ranks lower than traditional media on trust
- Facebook and WhatsApp are the most popular social media platforms for news, preferred overall by 46% and 25% respectively
- Friends and family, and community leaders are the least trusted sources of news overall, ranked as the least likely to provide accurate information about the general election
- 57% Kenyans feel able to access all the information about the general election that they need
- A vast majority of Kenyans (78%) would like more factual and accurate information about the general election in place of opinion and commentary
67% prefer comprehensive and detailed information about politics. 33% prefer summarized and concise.
A lot of fake news may be flying around but one thing is certainly true; Kenya is going to have one of the most expensive elections in Africa come August. The election is expected to top $1 billion in aggregate spend and could be Africa’s most expensive on a cost-per-voter basis and it is certainly Kenya’s most expensive election ever.
Spending in both the public and private sector are at an all-time high. Both the Kenyan government and the candidates are pouring money into securing the electoral process and campaigning to be the one elected.
Kenya’s national treasury said the preparation and execution of the election will cost 49.9 billion shillings ($480 million). Of that amount, the electoral commission is using almost 43 billion shillings ($413.2 million) to hire personnel, procure election materials, conduct voter education exercises and when the time comes, collecting and transmitting results.
Four billion shillings will be spent on enhancing security in hotspot counties and border areas. It will also be used to ease the process of acquiring national identity cards, and ensure peaceful coexistence during and after elections. The presidency, the judiciary, and national intelligence are also receiving millions of dollars in allocations.
With the high price tag on running this election, one can only hope that the people will be able to see past all the fake news to actually elect the candidate that will best represent their interests.