Following a survey of 2,000 Kenyans carried out through mobile phone messaging, it was discovered that nine out of every 10 respondents and half of consumers got fake news through social media.
As a result, Facebook on Friday rolled out a tool to help voters spot fake news ahead of a hotly-contested presidential election that has seen supporters of rival candidates trade bitter words online.
Facebook’s seven million monthly users in Kenya will see the new tool to help them evaluate content displayed prominently when they log on.
It leads to a page with tips on how to spot fake news, including checking web addresses and sources and looking for other reports on the topic, Facebook said in a statement.
Kenyans go to the polls on Tuesday to pick a president, parliament and regional representatives with incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta running against his archrival, Raila Odinga.
According to Vanguard, final polls have shown a tight race between both candidates after months of campaigning where supporters smeared each other on social media.
The new tool will be complemented by adverts in newspapers and radio stations.
The announcements will be in both English and the local Swahili language.
Fake news, mainly generated by website owners in order to drive readers to their sites to generate advertising revenue, was thrust into the spotlight during the U.S. presidential election in 2016.
The issue has also become a big political topic in Europe, with Germany backing a plan to fine social media networks if they fail to remove hateful postings promptly, ahead of elections there in September. French voters were also deluged with false stories ahead of the presidential election in May.
Firms like Facebook have fought back by cutting financial incentives for sources of fake news, locking fake user accounts, limiting spam and reducing links to suspect pages.
“People want to see accurate information on Facebook,” said Ebele Okobi, director of policy at Facebook Africa.
Kenya’s electoral commission said it had been a victim of online fake news but it did not provide details.