We helped reduce hate speech on Facebook in the Kenyan election – now it’s time to force them to take real action
On Monday, Kenya’s Supreme Court dismissed the challenge of Raila Odinga to William Ruto’s announced victory in the country’s general election.
While the formal transition of power is not due until next week, so far we have thankfully not seen post-election violence like Kenya suffered in 2007.
This is partly because of the pressure put on Facebook by Kenya’s National Cohesion and Integration Commission to get its house in order, following the report from Foxglove and Global Witness showing the company was repeatedly failing to stop hate speech getting onto newsfeeds.
But it also looks like we were lucky. The Africa Report describes how a “monsoon of misinformation” flooded onto social media during the election, which only increased in volume once a winner was announced.
As for hate speech, we simply don’t know how much made it onto Facebook during the election, because Meta refuses to say.
We did get a letter from Meta bigwig Nick Clegg, saying the pressure put on them by Foxglove and Global Witness’s report: “helped our teams to take steps to further improve the AI systems used alongside human reviews […] so that we can more easily find the same or similar content in the future.”
Clegg also claimed thousands of pieces of hate speech were taken down during the election but, as Meta refuses to say how much hate speech did make it onto Facebook, that tells us almost nothing about the full picture.
What we can say for sure is that days before the election began, 100% of the hate speech-filled ads Global Witness used to test Facebook’s systems were approved to be posted on the platform.
So what now? We know Zuckerberg, Clegg and co aren’t going to finally open their chequebook and provide the investment needed to get hate speech off Facebook – and transform the terrible working conditions of content moderators – just because we ask nicely.
That’s why we’ve spent the best part of a year working on a project aimed at tackling this problem and forcing Facebook to take the action they have so far chosen not to.
And it’s now almost ready to share. Hit the link below to get that news as soon as it’s ready: