Kenya elections: Media manipulations and misdemeanours – The Listening Post (Lead)

As Kenyans head to the polls in what is expected to be a tightly contested election, we look at the media coverage around the incumbent president, Uhuru Kenyatta and his old rival Raila Odinga.

When Kenyatta and Odinga faced each other back in 2013, it was thought the innovative use of social media was key for a Kenyatta win.

However, this time round, Kenya is facing a different kind of phenomenon. The emergence of fake news stories circulating online, and the speed with which these stories are spreading, is causing alarm among the general public.

“Kenyans are very active on WhatsApp, they’re very active on Telegram, this has fuelled a lot of fake news and some of these conversations that start online, they influence our conversations offline,” says Njoki Chege, a reporter at the Daily Nation.

But it’s not only fake news that has voters concerned.

In the past few weeks, attention has focused on Kenyatta’s reported relationship with Cambridge Analytica, an international data crunching firm. The company operates in the murky political margins and the people behind it have, to varying degrees, been credited with helping land Donald Trump in the White House and with helping the “Leave” side win Britain’s Brexit referendum.

Roughly one month before the election day, Kenyans began seeing a new video on their social media feeds. It’s called “Raila 2020”, and purports to provide a vision of what the country would look like, three years into a Raila Odinga presidency.

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