On 14 March 2023, ARTICLE 19, in partnership with UNESCO East Africa, launched a national coalition on freedom of expression and content moderation in Kenya (the Coalition). The Coalition is a multi-stakeholder collaboration between academics, national regulators, media actors, peace-building organisations and civil society, established as part of the Social Media 4 Peace project funded by the European Union.
In the first year of the project, ARTICLE 19 conducted research that analysed the enforcement of global content moderation rules at local level and the role local stakeholders in Kenya played in this process. The research found that social media platforms can contribute to reinforcing pre-existing tensions in society. A key problem is that content moderation is often designed and performed without an understanding of local context (including the cultural, social, and political dimensions) and local languages. There is also a significant lack of transparency regarding how social media companies allocate roles for moderating content, the number of moderators employed to conduct this work in local languages. In addition, the research found that at times, civil society organisations and the media are unable to hold online platforms accountable for their human rights impact and are not invited to engage with platforms and contribute to addressing shortcomings in content moderation or related issues.
The Coalition is a pilot initiative that aims to bridge the gap between local stakeholders and social media companies and to improve content moderation practices. In the first year, the Coalition aims to support policy and regulatory reform to ensure national laws conform to international human rights standards, to strengthen the capacity of both state and non-state institutions to identify and address potentially problematic content in a human-rights respecting manner, and to raise public awareness on ethical use of digital platforms through targeted advocacy.