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9 out of 10 Kenyans have seen fake news about the 2017 general election

Nairobi, 19 July 2017 – A new study reveals that 90 percent of Kenyans have seen or heard false news about the 2017 general election, with 87 percent reporting instances of deliberately false – or fake – news.

The survey – The Reality of Fake News in Kenya – is the first-ever study aimed at quantifying the prevalence and impact of false information during an election campaign in Africa.

The nationwide survey was led by strategic communications consultancy Portland in collaboration with GeoPoll, a mobile surveying platform.

Conducted via SMS, the survey asked a nationally representative sample of 2,000 Kenyans a series of questions about their consumption of news during May 2017 in relation to the forthcoming general election.

The survey found traditional media remain the most trusted news sources, with television ranking highest, followed by radio and newspapers.

Allan Kamau, Head of Portland Nairobi, says while fake news is evidently now a core part of the news mix in Kenya the study found that Kenyans are already well attuned to spotting false information.

“Respondents cited conflicting data, controversial messages and biased reporting as the top factors that lead them to suspect something is false. Getting even more sophisticated about spotting and tackling fake news will be vital in ensuring that credible news sources can maintain levels of trust,” said Kamau.

Social media is widely used by Kenyans of all ages to access and share news, with 49% of Kenyans using social platforms to secure general election news. However, social media consistently ranks lower than traditional media on trust.

Facebook and WhatsApp are the most popular social media platforms for news, preferred overall by 46% and 25% respectively.

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