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Kenya: Case study of Safaricom's response to hate speech in the 2013 presidential elections

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Article
5 November 2013

Corporate Responses to Hate Speech in the 2013 Kenyan Presidential Elections. Case Study: Safaricom

Author: Institute for Human Rights & Business

...[T]Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB)...[conducted a] case study...on the efforts of Safaricom...which devised its own code of conduct to prevent spreading hate-filled messages through its bulk SMS service.... In the run up to the 2013 elections, concerns of...[an] outbreak of violence and fears over the potential of SMS to simultaneously send messages that incite violence led Safaricom to take action...The findings, prepared in consultation with key stakeholders in Kenya and elsewhere, show that...rapid development of the ICT sector highlights the need for companies to understand the responsibilities associated with respecting freedom of expression around user-generated content as this may be central to their business model in the near future...[C]riminalising many forms of speech...results in the public expectation that many people will be prosecuted. This puts pressure on both the government and companies to act, which may result in legitimate views being restricted and citizens being unduly arrested. [also refers to Facebook & YouTube]

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Article
1 November 2013

[PDF] Corporate Responses to Hate Speech in the 2013 Kenyan Presidential Elections. Case Study: Safaricom

Author: Institute for Human Rights & Business

This study has a three-fold aim. First, to assist ICT companies, which provide SMS services and services based onuser-generated content in dealing with situations where accusations of content containing ‘hate speech’ arise. Second, to explore ways in which civil society groups can work with governments and companies to arrive at common approaches. And third, to reinforce the importance of the government and its role towards protecting rights – of those seeking protection from abuse, and those seeking to express themselves...The study examines the preparations by government, civil society and business to avoid a repeat of the violence in the 2013 Kenyan Presidential election and provides further context by focusing on the actions of the Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom and later the actions of the social networking company Facebook.

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