The Listening Post

How fake news could shape Kenya’s elections

A look at fake news, inaccurate polls and misleading ads in the run-up to Kenya’s vote. Plus, Omar Khadr and the media.

On The Listening Post this week: Fake news stories, inaccurate polls and misleading ads in the run-up to Kenya’s elections. Plus, Canada’s media split over the case of Omar Khadr.

Kenya elections: Media manipulations and misdemeanours

As Kenyans head to the polls, we examine the coverage around the incumbent president, Uhuru Kenyatta and his old rival Raila Odinga.

Four years ago, when Kenyatta and Odinga faced each other, it was thought the innovative use of social media was key for a Kenyatta win.

However, this time round, Kenya is facing a different kind of phenomenon. The emergence of fake news stories circulating online and the speed with which these stories are spreading, is causing alarm among the general public. But it’s not only fake news that has voters concerned.

In the past few weeks, attention has focused on Kenyatta’s reported relationship with Cambridge Analytica, an international data crunching firm with links to US President Donald Trump and reportedly the Brexit campaign in Britain. Which has Kenyans wondering, what is Cambridge Analytica up to this time?


Njoki Chege, reporter, Daily Nation
Macharia Gaitho, political commentator, former editor of Daily Nation
Robi Ochieng, academic, United States International University – Africa
Alphonce Shiundu, Kenya editor, Africa Check

On our radar:

  • The online space for Web users in Russia and China is narrowing after authorities clamp down on the use of virtual private networks (VPNs).
  • Media outlets operating out of Ramallah in the West Bank have had their officers raided and equipment seized by Israeli forces.
  • After a tumultuous precedent-setting 11-day tenure, Anthony Scaramucci, the White House communications director, was fired.

Omar Khadr: The case, the compensation and the media

A news story broke last month in Canada that has divided both Canadians and their media outlets. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government announced it would settle a lawsuit filed by Omar Khadr, a former prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, by paying Khadr $8m.

Canadians watching or reading conservative news outlets tended to come away outraged. Khadr, they were told, was a convicted terrorist – who had confessed, or so it seemed, to killing an American soldier in Afghanistan.

Those exposed to a more liberal treatment of the story were informed Khadr was a child soldier, just 15-years-old at the time of his alleged crime; that he had been held at Guantanamo illegally; that he had been tortured; that his confession, therefore, would not stand up in court and that he was more of a victim of the so-called “war on terror” than a participant.


Jeffrey Dvorkin, lecturer, University of Toronto
Sandy Garossino, columnist, National Observer
Jesse Brown, host, Canadaland podcast
Jonathan Kay, journalist