The reality of the rising scourge of disinformation and misinformation in Kenya came to the fore during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the issue was not limited to Kenya, it was a vice that had spread across the globe.
As a media and information literacy champion, I’ve been cognisant of the fact that misinformation is much more widespread in Kenya than disinformation, it didn’t occur to me that tables would turn in the wake of the 2022 general election where disinformation took center stage.
Defining Misinformation and Disinformation
Misinformation is false information shared by people who do not intend to mislead others while Disinformation is false information deliberately created and disseminated with malicious intent.
Disinformation seemed to be the currency of Kenya’s 2022 general election where politicians spread to be invested in curating misleading information in favour of them or against their opponents.
The widespread use of social media in Kenya, coupled by the notable freedom of speech that Kenyans enjoy unlike most of their regional counterparts where social media access is limited during elections or totally shut down, made it easy for the disinformation to spread.
The lack of adequate media and information literacy in most quotas saw the misleading information that was being spread fuel plenty of misinformation.
Meta had announced before the elections that it was taking measures to curb misinformation on Facebook ahead of the elections.
These measures they said would “include removing content that could incite violence or cause physical harm as well working with their fact-checking partners in Kenya, who include -AFP, Africa Check and PesaCheck to review and rate potentially false content on their platforms, label it, and place it lower in their feed to limit the number of people seeing it”.
In the absence of a report, we can however not tell how much malicious content aimed at spreading misinformation and disinformation was flagged or blocked on Facebook.
Become Media and Information Literate
While we can’t do much to control disinformation, we can invest in ourselves to ensure that we are media and information-literate and equipped with the skills to interrogate the information and media we consume.
Verifying information is a crucial part of MIL. Accurate information is often reported widely by multiple reliable sources and it’s also reported from a neutral point of view to ensure that it’s free of bias.
How do you also analyze and interrogate information? It’s important to be knowledgeable about the information that affects you in one way and another. This gives you the capacity to flag down misleading information because you are already informed. It also empowers you be a critical thinker, which is a major skill in today’s world. You become knowledgeable by reading and engaging with fellow informed people as well as listening to expert analysis.
Again before you. Click that share button or verbally share “things you’ve heard from your alleged “high sources” to your peers, learn to ask yourself the following two things; “is this information true, is it useful?”.
Teach Yourself Media Literacy