Fighting hate speech: Regulators want moderation on social media

Music Copyright Society of Kenya CEO Dr Ezekiel Mutua with Kabarak University Vice Chancellor Prof Henry Kiplagat and other guests during Kabarak University 14th International Research Conference.[Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Content regulators and scholars have called for moderation of content on social media platforms to curb disinformation and hate speech.

Speaking during the 14th International Research Conference held at Kabarak University, content regulators revealed the challenges of disinformation and hate speech following technological advances.

Music Copyright Society of Kenya CEO Ezekiel Mutua noted that weak enforcement of regulations on content creation has seen a rise in the dissemination and consumption of content that does not uphold moral standards.

“While freedom of information is critical, the truth is that regulation is minimal and we must find a way forward to address these challenges and have a collective understanding and guidelines on generation of content,” said Dr Mutua.

He said there was a delicate balance between freedom of expression and responsible content management, following the rise of influential social media platforms like TikTok with minimal regulation.

“There has been a lot of discussion around regulating content in platforms with vulgar, obscene and nude content. The intention, however, is not to ban these platforms but to make them more valuable and educative by moderating the content that do not conform with the national moral values,” he said.

He said that exploring algorithms to regulate social media content has been recommended as a possible solution to the challenge, which he said poses a danger to national security.

“There have been conversations around incorporating algorithms in regulating content... This is the reason why we are engaging in dialogue to come up with the best possible ways to curb content that does not meet moral standards,” said Mutua.

Kabarak University Vice Chancellor Henry Kiplagat said that complexities of content moderation in the digital landscape present profound societal, ethical and technological dilemmas.

“As much as we appreciate the flow of information and advances in technology, we find ourselves facing challenges of disinformation, hate speech and content moderation. As scholars, practitioners and stakeholders, it is important that we come together to find a way forward in addressing these challenges,” he said.

Prof Kiplagat added that the conference was part of efforts by scholars and practitioners to come up with insights to shape the future digital landscape.

“The issues and challenges are endless, ranging from gendered disinformation and hate speech to the legal and ethical dimensions of content moderation and the pivotal role of tech companies in combating disinformation,” he said.

Media Council of Kenya’s assistant director training, Christine Nguku, said that while technological advancements have eased content creation, the use of Artificial Intelligence poses threats to integrity of content if left unchecked.