On Tuesday 9th August, Kenyan voters will be heading to the polls for the 2022 General Elections, where they will vote to elect a new President, as well as voting to elect members of the National Assembly, and members of the Kenyan Senate. In addition to this, local county governors and candidates for the country’s 47 county assemblies will also be on the ballot this year for voters’ consideration.
Elections on Twitter
During any election, Twitter serves as a centralised hub for real-time political conversation and commentary, electoral resources, journalistic reports live from the campaign trail as well as a tool for people to hear directly from political representatives themselves.
Our work to make Twitter an engaging and healthy platform for political discourse is long standing; in 2019 we banned political ads as we believe political messaging should be earned, not bought; we’ve expanded our policies around election misinformation and continue to add context and notices to Tweets with manipulated media, to ensure people have the context they need.
2022 Kenyan Elections
Today, we wanted to share the steps we’ve taken and the trusted local partnerships we have, ahead of the 2022 Kenyan elections, ensuring the debate on Twitter is healthy, open and safe. Our work also ensures that Twitter continues to serve as the go-to place for people to see what’s happening, participate in the conversation, track campaign trails and consume verified information, so voters can make informed choices about what’s most important to them in this election.
As we work to improve the health of the public conversation – particularly during civic events like elections – we are committed to reaching beyond Twitter to integrate diverse perspectives that make our service better for everyone. As part of that, we have partnered with a number of organisations to further amplify credible information during the Kenyan election.
Elevate Credible Information: One such partner is Africa Check; established in 2012 as the continent’s first independent, nonpartisan fact-checking organisation that debunks dangerous statements, and empowers people to engage with information critically, while also building a culture of fact-checking across Africa. In the build-up to the Kenyan elections, Africa Check – which is part of the Fumbua collective, continues to combat false narratives, amplify accurate information and lead the activation of critical media literacy work across the region.
“We are pleased to collaborate with Twitter as part of our election work in Kenya. The collaboration will allow us to address dis- and misinformation by fact-checking claims and identifying potential misinformation. We will also highlight accurate, verified information ahead of the election on the platform so that voters can make informed decisions. Media literacy programmes are a proactive strategy to fight misinformation and allow us to use our fact-checking work to inoculate people against false information proactively and empower them to critically understand, analyse, and evaluate information instead of simply consuming and sharing it. We believe this enables them to make evidence-based decisions vital ahead of elections. Notably, the partnership with Twitter will deepen the impact of our media literacy project as it will allow us to reach a broader audience.” – Africa Check
This work is key to the protection of the election conversation and we look forward to continued partnerships and collaboration with Africa Check and all our other partner organisations, up to and after the Kenyan elections.
Ahead of the elections, Twitter worked with Kenyan partner organisations on verifying accounts of Government Agencies, Candidates, Political Parties, Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs), News Organisations and content creators. The blue Verified badge on Twitter lets people know that an account of public interest is authentic and notable – giving people on Twitter more context about who they’re having conversations with so they can determine the way in which they engage with a certain account.
Amplifying Credible Information
Our teams are working to ensure that voters in Kenya are directed to credible information while they spend time on our platform. In line with our efforts to amplify credible information, we have been able to launch the following features:
Custom Kenyan Election Emoji
Today we launched a custom Kenyan elections Emoji that will be activated by the hashtags #KenyaDecides, #KenyaDecides2022, #electionske #electionske2022. The bespoke Emoji, which pictures a ballot box with the Kenyan flag draped around it, aims to promote the discoverability of the election conversation and encourage active citizenship and a peaceful election process.
Kenyan Election Prompt
We have launched an election prompt in collaboration with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in both English and Swahili. The search prompt is a notification service that directs people in Kenya to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC’s) website where Kenyans will be able to access credible information about the elections when searching for keywords on Twitter, associated with the Kenyan General Election.
Our Twitter Curation team is supporting the 2022 Kenyan Elections with the creation of election Moments which are curated stories designed to address misleading and false information around the presidential elections.
These Twitter Moments, will include key dates, and general guidelines for participating in the electoral process from credible sources, including Kenya’s electoral regulator IEBC, media outlets, and fact-checking organisations.
In addition to enforcing our Policies on Hateful Conduct and Abusive Behaviour, we have implemented a clear Civic Integrity Policy so that people cannot use Twitter’s services for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes.
The Policy targets the most directly harmful types of content, such as (but not limited to) misleading information about how to participate in an election or misleading information that intends to intimidate or dissuade people from participating in an election.
Labelling: As such, in line with this policy, we will label Tweets that contain false or misleading information that undermines confidence in the election or false or misleading information related to the outcomes of the election. Tweets that are labelled under this policy will therefore have reduced visibility (not amplified) across the service and will lead to Twitter Moments with informative context on the topic – based on official, reliable sources and fact-checkers.
Our Sub-Saharan Africa policy team has also offered safety and security training to partner organisations, bringing them through tools such as mute, block and report, as well as various security tips and techniques such as two-factor authentication.
The established cross-functional 2022 Kenyan elections team at Twitter, will work to protect the integrity of the election-related conversation, support partner groups and political representatives as well as identifying and curbing any threat to the integrity of the 2022 Kenyan election conversation on Twitter.
We are committed to providing a service that fosters and facilitates political debate and we will continue to build on one of our core priorities, which is to protect political and civic conversation on Twitter through our policies, products and the integral partnerships we have around the world.
Sources for relevant election related information
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and any election officials as determined by the IEBC and the Constitution of Kenya.
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission
The Kenyan Judiciary
Author: Emmanuel Lubanzadio, Head of Public Policy Sub-Saharan Africa