Date of Award
Master of Arts in Digital Journalism (MADJ)
Graduate School of Media and Communications
This study explored the proliferation of fake news in Kenya and sought to uncover if fake news affected the 2017 Presidential Election outcomes. Just like in the two previous elections (2007 and 2013), the 2017 presidential polls were closely contested. The use of social networking sites and other online platforms like websites for campaigns was common during the 2017 Presidential Elections. Presidential candidates did not only set up websites, but also employed bloggers, social media savvy individuals and public relations firms to manage their social media accounts and other parody accounts that they used for their online campaigns. Thus, the study was guided by the following objectives: (i) to determine how fake news manifested before and during the 2017 Presidential Elections, (ii) to determine how fake news manifested before and during the 2017 Presidential Elections, (iii) to explore the sources/genesis/origins of fake news during the 2017 Presidential Elections, and (iv) to determine the nature of fake news during the 2017 Presidential Elections. The study employed social responsibility theory as theoretical framework. The researcher adopted qualitative research approach and descriptive survey design to investigate fake news and the 2017 presidential elections in Kenya. Data was collected through key informant interviews aided by an interview guide as a tool for data generation. The study’s findings showed that politicians had well-organised fake news campaigns that targeted opponents and that fake news was manifested on social media in the form of fabricated photos, screenshots, deep fakes, screen grabs, doctored videos, fake newspaper front pages, and posters. Further, bloggers, social media influencers and public relations firms also generated fake news while mainstream media spread fake news in the form of planted stories. Moreover, representatives of presidential candidates shared falsified information with journalists, leading to the deliberate publication of sensationalized stories. The study concluded that fake news was majorly circulated on social media platforms with Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp being the leading channels in that order. The study recommended that there is a need for journalists to be trained on social media content verification while media organizations need to set up well-staffed verification desks. Additionally, social media platforms need some form of regulation. The researcher suggested further investigations on the nature of false information in Kenya.
Wanjiru, Anthony Kuria. (2021). An exploratory study of fake news and the 2017 presidential elections in Kenya news (Unpublished Masters Thesis). Nairobi: Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media & Communications