Cambridge Analytica Scandal Comes To Kenya: Officials Demand Answers After Firm Brags Of Manipulating 2017 Election
The country is concerned about election manipulation and an epidemic of fake news on social media.
March 22, 2018 at 8:42 pm
Kenya's next national election is coming up in August, and Facebook is taking steps in the country to ensure that fake news does not impact the election result, VICE News reports.
The tech corporation bought full-page ads in local papers, warning readers of dangerous of fake news and even created a tool to help halt the spread of fake news.
Like many other nations, Kenya has struggled with fake news of late. A recent report by Portland Communications, the "Reality of Fake News In Kenya Survey," found that 90 percent of the 2,000 Kenyans surveyed said that they come across fake news online on a regular basis. 50 percent of those surveyed said that social media is how they get their news.
Following these revelations, as well as the finding last week that consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used Facebook and Facebook data in effort to say elections, Kenyan officials are looking for answers about the degree to which its recent elections were manipulated.
They would also very much like to know how much Cambridge Analytica is responsible for the fake news epidemic rocking their country.
A video was recently released featuring Cambridge Analytica's managing director of politics, Mark Turnbull, bragging that he'd rigged Kenya's 2017 election.
John Kerry and other international judges certified the election as above board, however, an internal investigation by country officials found that the election, which elected Uhuru Kenyatta, was completely invalid.
"We have rebranded the entire party twice, written their manifesto, done two rounds of 50,000 surveys,” Turnbull said of Kenyatta's campaign in the video. “Then we’d write all the speeches and we’d stage the whole thing. So just about every element of his campaign.”
Even though Turnbull says Cambridge Analytica worked to rig Kenya's election, a spokesperson from the firm dismissed the idea that the company used fake news to help Kenyatta.
“To the contrary, our marketing was based on positive and inclusive core campaign messages. We did not promote any fabricated news stories or any negative content,” the spokesperson said.
In the U.S., it has been alleged that Cambridge Analytica manipulated data from 50 million Facebook accounts in an effort to sway the 2016 U.S. election in Donald Trump's favor.
Discovering the exact influence that Cambridge Analytica on the Kenya election is tricky because Kenya has no data protection laws, Lucy Purdon, privacy firm Privacy International's policy officer, said.
"Kenya has no data protection laws, it could be anything,” Purdon said. “The potential data-gathering could be extremely intrusive, including sensitive personal data such as a person's ethnicity. In a country like Kenya, where there is history of ethnic tensions resulting in political violence, campaigning based on data analytics and profiling is untested ground fraught with great risk.”
Even though people can't exactly pinpoint the impact that Cambridge Analytica had in the 2017 election, George Kegoro, executive director of Kenya Human Rights Commission, said the election was run on fear nonetheless.
“What we know is that they had a role in the election. What we know also is that this election was run on a deliberate narrative of fear,” Kegoro said. “Fear was created in the population that there would be violence in the election, and that was a big factor in how everything was run. If Cambridge Analytica was responsible for this, then a great injustice has been done to Kenya, a big, huge, massive injustice was done to the people of Kenya.”