ONLINE PLATFORMS

Social media use spike,new board to tame misuse

Oversight Board for Facebook and Instagram to curb fake news

In Summary

•Social media use has become a key engagement tool in the country as majority of people stay at home to help curb the coronavirus pandemic.

•The independent social media watchdog will review certain content decisions by Facebook and Instagram.

Instagram
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Social media has increased as a key source of information worldwide with an upward trajectory predicted in the wake of the coronavirus.

From weddings, to work meetings, to e-learning platforms, social media use has become a key engagement tool in the country as majority of people stay at home to help curb the coronavirus pandemic.

"We will see these platforms being used increasingly for business and not limited to socializing and entertainment purposes," Maina Kiai, Oversight Board for Facebook and Instagram Content board member said.

The independent social media watchdog will review certain content decisions by Facebook and Instagram and make binding decisions based on respect for freedom of expression and human rights.

According to the United Nations Development Programme- Kenya, there has been a spike in misinformation regarding Covid-19 through various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp in the country.

"Fake news’ has a relatable human element, which makes it all the more dangerous," head of experimentation at UNDP Accelerator Lab Kenya Lillian Njoro said.

She added that when faced with a looming and invisible threat, some may find comfort in myths around the immunity of certain populations to the virus, or the medicinal qualities of particular plants.

Kiai said the newly created oversight board is aimed at tackling increasingly complex and contentious debates about what types of content should and should not be permitted on Facebook and Instagram and who should decide.

"The Board will prioritize cases that potentially impact many users, are of critical importance to public discourse, or raise questions about Facebook’s policies," he said.

Social media platforms usage is expected to broaden as people become more familiar and comfortable with the different platforms available to them.

The new governance structure will be reviewing appeals from users regarding content allowed to remain on Facebook and Instagram, including misinformation and political advertising.

"Once we are fully operational, the Oversight Board members will be focused on bringing greater clarity and transparency to how online content is moderated," Kiai said.

A report released by Geopoll in March revealed that with consumers spending more time at home, their listenership and viewership attention is now being split across the traditional media of TV and radio, as well as other media platforms including social media and gaming.

Increased internet use in the country has been evidenced by increased data usage across different network providers.

Last month, telco giant Safaricom reported a 70 per cent surge in data usage while Telkom reported a 50 per cent increase in data consumption.