China’s TikTok Spreads Fears of Ethnic Violence in Kenyan Elections

Videos posted in Kenya in recent weeks on Chinese social media platform TikTok reportedly contained “hatred, incitement and other political disinformation” that could provoke ethnic violence ahead of Kenya’s 2022 presidential election in August, it reported. Al Jazeera on Friday.

“As Kenya’s general election approaches, TikTok videos showing ‘hate, incitement and other political disinformation’ are on the rise, according to a recent Mozilla Foundation survey,” Al Jazeera reported on June 10.

“In a report published Wednesday” [June 8]Mozilla colleague Odanga Madung identified 130 TikTok videos that spread “widespread misinformation” and “fueled violent, ethnically discriminatory stories,” the Qatari news channel reported.

The Mozilla Foundation is a US-based non-profit organization that advocates for transparency and accountability on the Internet, according to its website. TikTok is a Chinese video sharing platform. The Chinese government acquired an ownership stake in a domestic subsidiary of ByteDance, a Chinese company that owns TikTok, in August 2021.

TikTok’s alleged hosting of videos deemed politically and ethnically sensitive by the Mozilla Foundation included the following examples, according to Al Jazeera:

The report highlighted that the collection of 130 videos from 33 accounts violated TikTok’s policies on hate speech, discrimination, incitement and falsehood. […]

[T]The report mentioned how in a video clip vice president and frontrunner William Ruto gave a speech during a meeting. The speech captioned it as: “Ruto hates Kikuyus and wants revenge in 2022.”

The report stated that the video was widely distributed, with over 445,000 views on TikTok.

Mozilla Foundation colleague Odanga Madung, who wrote the June 8 report, said a TikTok spokesperson responded to the analysis and “removed several videos and suspended accounts from his platform that did not comply with the guidelines of hate speech and incitement” the spokesman said. Al Jazeera.

Madung acknowledged in a statement released with his June 8 report that Kenya has a “tainted history of post-election violence”. He further stated in the report that he “had conversations with TikTok whistleblower Gadear Ayed, who was a former moderator on the platform, [that] also revealed his “deep unfamiliarity with the Kenyan political context,” which he believes could explain how such videos went undetected,” Al Jazeera said.

TikTok is a globally popular video sharing platform downloaded by 656 million people by 2021. The smartphone application has proved extremely successful in Kenya, which registered the highest TikTok downloads worldwide in the first quarter of 2022, according to Kenya’s popular newspaper.

Kenya’s ties to China extend beyond TikTok, as Nairobi is a member of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI supports infrastructure projects in developing or low-income countries through a China-controlled loan structure that often pushes struggling countries further into debt, critics of the scheme say. Observers further accuse Beijing of strategically using the BRI to promote the influence of China’s ruling Communist Party worldwide.

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