The study, titled “The Impact of Disinformation and Misinformation on Media and Democracy in Kenya”, was unveiled on the 2023 International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.
The study involved 108 respondents, including journalists, media workers, election observers, politicians, and civil society organization officials.
It found that false information influenced candidate choices, voter turnout, and public perceptions of the election’s fairness. It also eroded trust in political institutions, electoral processes, and the media.
“Disinformation and misinformation have emerged as formidable threats to both the media and democracy in Kenya. Their rapid spread, often amplified through social media, poses risks to the integrity of electoral processes and public trust in institutions.
Understanding the tactics employed by purveyors of false information is essential to mitigating their impact,” reads part of the research that was conducted by Lead Researcher, Churchill Moses Otieno Auma, and his Research Assistants Kennedy Obat and Tabitha Wangechi.
Social media platforms, especially Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter, were the main channels for disseminating disinformation. Political actors were pivotal in generating and amplifying false narratives.
The study recommends several strategies to address the scourge of disinformation and misinformation. These include:
- Nationwide media literacy campaigns
- Strengthening fact-checking systems and fostering collaborations with media outlets
- Enhancing the regulatory framework for online content, emphasizing transparent content moderation, accountability of social media platforms, and penalties for those propagating disinformation
- Multi-stakeholder collaboration among government agencies, civil society organizations, media houses, and technology companies
- Encouraging political actors to adopt transparent and accountable communication practices
The study also revealed critical gaps in Kenya’s policy and legislative framework that must be updated to align with the digital age.
Media outlets need to establish robust self-regulation mechanisms to uphold integrity and accuracy in reporting.
The study concludes that addressing disinformation and misinformation is a shared responsibility that requires the commitment of all stakeholders.
“This study underscores the critical role of the media in safeguarding democracy against the corrosive effects of false information. By understanding the nature and impact of disinformation and misinformation, Kenya can forge a path toward a more informed, resilient, and robust democratic process in the future.”
By working collaboratively, Kenya can uphold the principles of truth, transparency, and accountability, ensuring the integrity of its democratic processes for the benefit of all citizens.