Emerging Concerns on Social media use in the Upcoming 2022 Elections

KICTANet Thought Leadership Series.
Date: Tuesday 29, March 2022 | Time:  8.00 am to 4.30 pm
Venue: Sankara Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya, by Invitation only.

Introduction

KICTANet and Meta will host an interactive thought leadership roundtable for civil society to highlight emerging concerns on digital rights activism in Kenya in the context of the upcoming 2022 general election.

Background and Context

Kenya’s General elections are scheduled to be held on 9 August 2022. It is expected that social media networks will continue to be used by politicians for mobilisation. Social media platforms have gained traction and there is a trend where politicians share their manifestos and misinformation. Some politicians even have ‘broadcast stations’ on social media where they update their followers/supporters on their daily activities or have ‘live’ events. Popular spaces include Twitter spaces, Facebook Live, Youtube and Whatsapp. Some of their events have huge live audiences following these events. With data protection still relatively new in the Kenyan ICT ecosystem, there is little understanding among citizens and politicians on their data rights and responsibilities. Human rights in their various capacities continue to be a thorny issue both in developed and developing countries. At the core of human rights lies fundamental human freedoms.

Digital inequality, mass surveillance, use of tracing apps to manipulate individual behaviour, state-sponsored shutdowns, and digital sanctions have always existed but have increased with the onset and rise of Covid-19. These inequalities have resulted in threats to democracy through state-sponsored shutdowns and surveillance that are meant to rob people of privacy, freedom of expression, freedom to information, and the innate desire for anonymity. In Kenya for example, one social justice activist Mutemi wa Kiama, founder of Wanjiku Revolution social media accounts was arrested for posting on his social media allegations of corruption and nepotism among the political elite. He was released after 20 hours in detention and no charges were preferred.

Various legislative frameworks, including the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act (2018) the Copyright Act (2001), and the Books and Publication Act (CAP 111) continue to arm authorities with arbitrary and disproportionate powers which interfere with human rights protections in Kenya, including freedom of speech. These frameworks grant wide search-and-seize powers to police officers, without the requirement for judicial oversight (i.e., obtaining a warrant), and contain punitive criminal penalties. These laws should be replaced by civil remedies which meet the proportionality test.

To enhance human rights in the digital realm, there is the need to focus on transparency and accountability of platforms, services, and technology to serve the public, especially in an election context. The world is still far behind in ensuring digital equality and that digital technology is not used in violating human rights. A human-centred approach in designing technologies is a good place to start to ensure inclusivity regardless of the political, economical, or social circumstances of any individual.

The world is still far behind in ensuring digital equality and that digital technology is not used in violating human rights. A human-centred approach in designing technologies is a good place to start to ensure inclusivity regardless of the political, economical, or social circumstances of any individual.

Objectives of the Meeting
The objective of the roundtable meeting is to provide a platform for dialogue on the online trends that pose a risk to free, fair and peaceful elections; the risks to online activists and special groups; and to identify strategies and potential solutions.

Expected Outcomes.

  • Enhanced understanding and engagement on the online trends that pose a risk to free, fair and peaceful elections, including the risks to online activists and special groups
  • Identified priority actions, potential solutions and best practices to promote free, fair and peaceful elections.

Format of the Event

The event shall be a roundtable discussion, with key panel discussions followed by a plenary session. Key recommendations shall be consolidated into a policy brief which shall be shared with stakeholders at a later date.

Participants
The meeting will aim to bring together at least 40 digital rights activists, representatives of CSOs working on digital rights, human rights defenders, and other opinion-shapers who influence conversations both online and offline, to enhance partnerships, sharing of knowledge and emerging best practices.

About the Organizers
KICTANet is a multistakeholder platform for people and institutions interested in ICT policy. The network acts as a think tank that catalyzes policy reforms in the ICT sector, and it is guided by four pillars: policy advocacy, stakeholder engagement, capacity building and research. KICTAnet’s guiding philosophy encourages synergies for ICT policy-related activities and initiatives. As such, the network provides mechanisms and a framework for continuing cooperation and collaboration in ICT matters among industry, technical community, academia, media, development partners, and Government.

Program

        TIME                             DESCRIPTION
8:00 am – 8:30 am Arrival and Registration

  • KICTANet
8:30 am – 8:45 am   Welcome and Introductions

    •  Grace Githaiga/Ali Hussein, KICTANet
    • Mercy Ndegwa, Meta
8:45 am – 9:00 am   Agenda Setting and Objectives

  •    Victor Kapiyo, (KICTANet)
9:00 am – 10:00 am  Panel Discussion – Elections Preparedness: Towards free, fair and peaceful elections
  

  • Online trends from Kenya and beyond that pose a risk to free, fair and peaceful elections.Mugambi Kiai, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa
  • Observations on hate and incitement in a digital election in 2022 – Janet Chapia, ELOG
  • Emerging Concerns for vulnerable groups online – Diana Gichengo, Amnesty International
  • Misinformation and its effects on election Integrity and authenticity – Odanga Madung’, Mozilla Foundation
  • Challenges in elections observations and advocacy on social media– Irene Soila, KHRC

Moderator: Kwamchetsi Makokha, Journalists for Justice.

  • What are the emerging trends that you have observed with respect to elections and social media use?
  • What needs to be done to address these concerns?

R: Angela/Meshack

10:00 am – 10:30 am Plenary Session
10:30 am – 11:00 am Health break
11:00 am – 12:00 pm Overview of Meta’s Community Standards

  • Violence and Criminal Behaviour, Safety, Objectionable Content, Integrity and Authenticity, and Intellectual Property. 
  • Misinformation

Moderator: Rosemary Kimwatu 

R: Meshack

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Mini-Deep Dives: Concerns and challenges for online activists

  • Content Moderation – Kennedy Kachwanya, BAKE (R: Kyalo)
  • Human Rights Risks and Policies – Stephanie Muchai (R: Angela)
  • Misinformation policies – Oloo Janak, KCA (R: Meshack)

Questions for discussion

  • What are the current gaps in/challenges with current measures or practices by social media platforms generally?
  • What are the priority actions, potential solutions and best practices that can be adopted?
  • What are the opportunities for multi stakeholder collaboration and partnerships?

Experts will be allocated a table to facilitate and give the people at the table an opportunity to discuss the issues, and make recommendations. The moderators will make a 5 minute opening intervention to set the scene.

Moderator: Rosemary Kimwatu 

Rapporteurs: Angela (Lead), Meshack, Kyalo

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm LUNCH BREAK
2:00 pm – 2:45 pm Deep-Dive Feedback Session 

  • Highlights from the discussions

Moderator: Barrack Otieno/ R: Kyalo

2:45 pm – 4:15 pm Meta’s Approach to election integrity 

  • Key concerns and guardrails in place to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections. 

Moderator: Barrack Otieno

R: Meshack

4:15 pm – 4:30 pm Plenary Session
4:30 pm – 4:45 pm Way Forward
4:45 pm – 5:00 pm Closing Session

  • Ali Hussein, KICTANet
  • Mercy Ndegwa, Meta
5:00 pm – Tea/Coffee

Guests leave at their own pleasure

 

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