BAKE condemns rogue bloggers, hatemongers ahead of 2017 election amid rising cases of false stories

The Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE), an organization that represents online content creators, has rebuked rogue bloggers who spread false information.

BAKE, whose mandate is to improve the quality of content created on the web, made its stance known at a time when lies, misinformation and half-truths have far-reaching consequences given Kenya’s current political climate.

Speaking exclusively to X News, the Bloggers Association has admonished gossips masquerading as would-be journalists.

“We do not support the spreading of misleading information. We promote for people to put up information that is true and ethical,” BAKE told X News during a recent exchange.

The Bloggers Association has been working to promote integrity within its ranks but since the internet is an open sandbox, other bloggers not affiliated with the organization are bound to pop up.

“Note that not all bloggers are our members. We however advocate bloggers to give information that is true. Also, if the person gives false information they should know they are liable to face the long arm of the law,” the Association said in a statement.

On its part, the government has made some strides to regulate the spread of misinformation, outlawing the use of inflammatory statements commonly referred to as ‘hate speech’.

The state has also been instrumental in catching a few rogue bloggers, the latest major bust involving One Patrick Safari, who was arrested and charged for making fake government documents and obtaining money under false pretenses. Safari, who is popularly known as @moderncorps on Twitter, was arrested at the Ruiru Prisons Training College where he had been summoned following complaints from members of the public.

Despite such moves, the government lacks the capacity to regulate what people post online. In light of these challenges, some social media companies have taken it upon themselves to stem the spread of otherwise harmful misinformation.

Google, one of the most prominent tech companies in the world, announced on November 14 that it is working on a policy that will restrict ads placed on fake news sites.

The announcement was made just as Facebook came under fire for allowing false information to be spread among its users ahead of the US presidential election. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has since promised to address the issue.

In the run up to next year’s general elections, Kenya’s politicians have been seen to mirror their counterparts in the United States, a country that recently put controversial tycoon, Donald Trump on track to become the most powerful man in the world.

The false news issue has been a significant one in the US elections with Trump, the US President-elect, known for his debatably-outrageous statements, sometimes depicted as a victim of false reporting.

One of the most common pieces of misinformation that was spread during the US presidential race was a quote, claiming that the mogul once referred to Republicans as “the dumbest group of voters in the country.” Bloggers in the United States and across the globe were quick to share the statement, which made rounds on various websites and social media platforms, but was later debunked. Trump later turned the tables on his detractors and started spreading his own brand of misinformation. The billionaire last week claimed credit for saving American jobs that would have been lost to Mexico had a US-based vehicle manufacturing plant been moved there. This was, however, not the case. It was later revealed that Trump had bent the truth in his favour.

Similar tactics have been used by rogue bloggers, who move quickly to twist the truth and bend it in favour of the candidates they support or to direct traffic to their sites.

One US-based blogger by the name of Paul Horner said he believes he is the reason Trump won the 2016 presidential election. Horner, who creates hoaxes and fake news on Facebook, makes $10,000 (more than Sh1 million) per month from advertisements that run with his work.

Kenya-based bloggers also rely on site traffic to help attract advertisers and some have shown the capacity to spread lies in order to generate said traffic.

 

A new report from privately-owned publisher, Medium has found that advertisers do not care if a site publishes false articles as long as it gets the hits they need to generate their revenue.

The analysis found that website creators would willingly publish sensationalist and often false content in order to attract more page views. The same can be said of local bloggers who use provocative headlines to draw in readers. Such tactics have roused the ire of the Bloggers Association, which has worked hand-in-hand with its members in a bid to hold them to a higher standard.

“We have held several workshops and trainings to train people on blogging, social media, law and the internet.  These training have been held in Nairobi county as well as Bungoma, Nyeri, Mombasa, Makueni, Kisumu, Naivasha. We have also trained in universities and institutions such as Daystar, Dedan Kimathi, JKUAT, USIU, Multimedia University, Technical University of Kenya, Kenya Institute of Mass Communication,” BAKE Administration Manager, Jane Muthoni told X News.

“We also host a Digital camp which is meant to foster community relations between Kenyan online content creators and the various stakeholders that operate in the digital space as well as enhance their digital skills,” the organization added. “In our five years of existence, we have trained over 15000 content creators. Apart from the trainings, we are the organizers of the Kenyan Blog Awards popularly known as BAKE Awards.   We have hos BAKE tends to foster a culture of entrepreneurship among its members.

“Our members range in different levels from those who have high traffic and have managed to monetize to those who are just starting out. Apart from training, where we give guidance on what to do and not to do online, we support them with advice on technical matters as well as improving their blogs to increase their audience and readership. We also link them up with monetization opportunities either directly or indirectly.  As well if they get into trouble for content they have published, we provide them with legal assistance. We also aggregate our members content on our site bake.co.ke,” said the organisation. ted five editions so far.  The awards represent BAKE’s efforts in the promotion of quality content creation.”

“We are proud of the kind of  content being created by our members both in terms of quality and quantity.  It is our plan to double our efforts in coming months and years  in order to  continue building  a better online community,” BAKE Chairman, Kennedy Kachwanya told X News.

 

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