CS Fred Matiang'i: Government won't shut Facebook during elections

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i speaking during the launch of the National Risk Assessment on Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing in Nairobi on July 27, 2022. [Esther Jeruto, Standard]

Interior Cabinet Secretary (CS) Fred Matiang’i has dismissed NCIC’s proposal to suspend Facebook for allegedly failing to flag hate content in the run-up to August 9, 2022 General Election.

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) on Friday, July 29 said Facebook, a social media platform owned by American company Meta, had contravened hate prevention guidelines in Kenya.

The NCIC said it had asked Facebook to respond to its concerns, but the social networking platform ignored its numerous letters.

Consequently, the NCIC said on Friday that should Facebook fail to file a response within seven days from July 29, then the commission will recommend its suspension from the Kenyan market.

The statement has drawn opposition from the State, with Cabinet secretaries Fred Matiang’i (Interior) and Joe Mucheru (ICT), saying the government has no plans, whatsoever, to close Facebook operations in Kenya.

Speaking in Nyamira County on Saturday, July 30, CS Matiang’i assured Kenyans that Facebook operations will continue on and after August 9, the day Kenyans take to the ballot to elect their next group of leaders.

“I heard the NCIC proposing that Facebook should be shut during the elections. That’s a recommendation by one or two commissioners of the NCIC. The position of the government is very clear: we will respect the Constitution, which highlights the rights that Kenyans enjoy. As a government, we won’t interfere with the rights of the people.

“Senior government officers have not discussed anywhere that the social media or internet needs to be shut in the upcoming polls. We are a mature government.

“Criticism, [which we are being subjected to by Kenyans daily], is a way of life, and we are used to it. We work in a democratic set-up. We will not interfere with social media or the internet just because of elections,” he said.

The minister added: “The opinion of the NCIC commissioner [Danvas Makori to suspend Facebook] is not something that we’ll even consider.”