Spread false info online at your own peril, bloggers warned
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has warned bloggers against circulating false information and propaganda against Kenyans, leaders, county governments and institutions.
Commission claimed some bloggers had created parody accounts and were using pseudo names to disparage other people’s or leaders’ character, a trend it warned should stop. NCIC Commissioner Philip Okundi (pictured) said such bloggers will be named and shamed if they continue to mislead their social media followers. Okundi noted that the use of abusive or insulting words that stir hatred must be discouraged, saying it was an offense.
“Bloggers must be responsible and accurate because they at time share share very sensitive information with wider audiences,” said Okundi, adding that culprits will be liable for a fine not exceeding Sh1 million or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years.
He revealed that the commission will intensify surveillance of social media bloggers to ensure they don’t distort media information or misuse it for their own self-interest.
“They must be accurate and responsible bloggers sensitive to conflict and passionate about peacebuilding efforts,” he said.
Commissioner spoke as NCIC promised to train more Kenyan journalists and bloggers on the freedom of speech as an essential part of building sustainable democracy. NCIC noted that the media have a significant role and right to voice Kenyans’ opinions and should have access to unbiased information. “This will give us the opportunity to hold leaders and institutions accountable, strengthening societies and fostering social cohesion,” Okundi said during a two-day sensitisation workshop for journalists and bloggers in Kisumu town.
He said the media’s role in building democracy was key and more so if they are left free to do their work within the confines of the law, without gagging them.
“Apart from informing people, journalism can shape and spread values, defuse tensions, and counter hate-speech, and help Kenya to provide an array of different views and opinions,” he stated.
Okundi called for responsible journalism that contributes to peace and focuses on trying to humanise peace-building processes.