As votes near in Kenya and Germany, concerns over fake news have taken center stage. With Kenyans headed to the polls tomorrow in a closely contested race that pits current President Uhuru Kenyatta against former prime minister Raila Odinga, The New York Times’s Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura reports that allegations of fake news have added to fears that the country will again see post-election bloodshed
After a disputed 2007 election resulted in a victory for Kenyatta, widespread violence left more than 1,000 Kenyans dead. Freytas-Tamura writes that in the past week, a senior election official was found murdered, and there was a break-in at the estate of the vice president. Kenyans have also seen demonstrably false or unverified stories about vote-rigging and planned violence. “There is an ecosystem of fake news around this election,” Freytas-Tamura quotes Alphonce Shiundu, editor of Africa Check, a fact-checking organization saying. “Kenyans really don’t know what the truth is.”
Fake news is also a hot topic in Germany, where a September election will determine the leadership of Europe’s largest economy. Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to maintain her position, but her government is bracing for a flood of embarrassing leaks and cyberattacks aimed at damaging her standing and sowing seeds of distrust in the political process
At the center of those concerns is the specter of Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader is no fan of Merkel’s, as the German Chancellor has been one of the strongest global advocates pushing a hard line against Moscow. In Berlin, The Washington Times’s Guy Taylor writes that “there is little question that a Kremlin-backed subversion campaign is already well underway.”
Below, more on the fear of fake news and the efforts to combat it.
- Overview of the Kenyan election: BBC’s Alastair Leithead reports from Nairobi with a summary of the calm before the election storm.
- Facebook’s effort: Reuters reports that Facebook is offering a new tool to help Kenyan users identify fake news on its platform.
- Mixed results in Germany: Attempts to cut down on fake news in Germany, including legislative efforts, have yielded mixed results, writes Politico’s Laurens Cerulus.
- Calculating the impact: In July, The New York Times’s Anna Sauerbrey wrote that, while Russian interference in the German election is expected, its impact will likely be marginal.
- Putin’s propaganda playbook: Earlier this year for CJR, Yardena Schwartz examined the Russian leader’s history with misinformation.
Other notable stories
- Fox News host Eric Bolling has been suspended following Yashar Ali’s report that he had sent inappropriate and unsolicited text messages to colleagues.
- Following the lead of a bloc of Gulf states, Israel plans to revoke the credentials of Al Jazeera journalists and close the network’s Jerusalem bureau.
- CJR columnist Trevor Timm says that the anger over The Washington Post’s decision to publish transcripts of President Trump’s calls with foreign leaders is hyperbolic and misplaced.
- The New York Times’s Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns report on the “shadow campaigns” of several Republican politicians preparing for possible 2020 presidential bids.
- Pro-Trump talking head Kayleigh McEnany has left CNN, and appeared Sunday in a propaganda-style video for President Trump’s Facebook page.