by Christine Lagat
NAIROBI, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's agency in charge of promoting cohesion and some corporations on Monday raised alarm over proliferation of fake news, terming the phenomenon a threat to peace, stability and economic growth.
A senior official at National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and industry executives decried the spread of fake news through social media platforms and urged punitive action on the culprits.
"We are concerned about the spread of fake news that is deliberately designed to stir ethnic emotions or violence. We want the online community to help us stem hatred that is being spewed on social media," Joseph Nasongo, NCIC commissioner, said in a statement.
The agency in charge of cohesion in conjunction with Kenya's mobile telecommunications firm Safaricom and media houses had organized a forum to discuss the threat of fake news that has worsened during this election cycle.
Nasongo said NCIC is reviewing fake news distributed online with a view to recommend prosecution of authors who usually camouflage their identity.
"We are investigating 273 cases of hatred speech on social media although there are many others that have not been reported. Our aim is to curb spread of content that may evoke violence," said Nasongo.
Kenya has witnessed proliferation of fake news ahead of the repeated presidential elections slated for Oct. 17 as directed by the country's apex court that annulled the Aug. 8 polls over irregularities.
Industry chiefs warned that fake news are not only a threat to peace but has also hurt Kenya's investment climate.
Stephen Chege, Head of Corporate Affairs at Safaricom, said that businesses are spending colossal amount of money to acquire tools that filter false information on digital platforms.
"Fake news is costing listed companies a fortune at the National Securities Exchange and businesses are investing more resources to be able to review, filter and deal with false information that may affect their operations," said Chege.