Social media and its effect in Kenya

Social media has become an economically viable industry for bloggers[1].

Social media has become a platform for various things, it has become a source of receiving and giving information: from outfit pictures to pictures of war; from propaganda to tributes; entrepreneurs, companies and even artists are using social media to make their services available to the rest of the world.

Social media is not only a frenzy in the Western world but more so in African and Asian countries as well. Kenyans love their selfies and food pictures as much as the next person. When it comes to media, on the other hand, Kenyan journalists do not seem to know how to exploit social media to the fullest.

The Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) has recorded[2] that Kenya has nearly 15,000 registered blogs, 3,000 of which are active members. Kenyan bloggers are (arguably) more popular than Kenyan journalists are. This is because blogs are much more informed; the bloggers and the blogs give you information that is not mainstream but is in fact raw information; you, as the reader, either agree, disagree or remain indifferent as to the statistics, facts and opinions provided by the author of the post however the undisputable fact is that of the matter is these bloggers are giving you information that the media houses will not.

Unfortunately a lot of these blogs and bloggers have most likely stolen their articles. It is one thing to borrow bits and pieces from another blog, blogs or bloggers and it is a whole other scenario when a blogger steals 100% of another person’s blog. Kenyan legislation comes into play in this situation as laws are created to prosecute infringers.[3]

Laws have also been passed to prevent the use of hate speech, libel and defamation in the media towards other individuals. These include: online publications, blogs or posts on social media. Some media bodies have also begun to construct guidelines in an attempt to regulate and help their staff use social media to the fullest.

However the issue that arises is that, more often than not, journalists may feel like they are not using the traditional journalists tools instead they are using it to a more personal capacity (which is not always a representation of the true, journalistic media). This is one of the reasons that Kenyan journalists do not exploit social media to the fullest.

Going back to the legislations and rules that have been put in place by the government, in 2015 a Kenyan blogger by the name of Abraham Mutai[4] and a web developer by the name of Geoffrey Andare[5] have had their freedoms threatened in one way or the other through use of the law. Mutai’s blog was pulled down while his twitter account was suspended for some hours. Mutai was also arrested in January of 2015 over his tweets that are being deemed as ”offensive materials.”

These offensive materials are simply the honest, raw material being talked about earlier; bloggers are an obvious threat to the corrupt, legal system and this legal system is using copyright laws to their advantage in an attempt to control the Kenyan social media spectrum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-net/2015/kenya

[2] The state of blogging and social media in Kenya 2015 report

[3] https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-net/2013/kenya#.VW9VCNKqqko

[4] http://www.kenya-today.com/news/blogger-cord-kiplangat-abraham-mutai-arrested-police

[5] http://nairobinews.nation.co.ke/news/standard-group-journalist-arrested-for-defaming-mp-on-facebook/

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