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Technology and hate speech

I’ve deleted a comment made by someone about the hate speech on Mashada, not because I disagree with the concerns raised but because I know the links included would have been bait for guys to respond with their own hateful comments.

I have recently had a conversation with David about the kinds of inciteful and hateful speech that people are putting up on Mashada, and what he was doing about it – beyond my disgust with what people are putting up there… I was/am concerned that it would undermine the wonderful work that he is doing with Ushahidi. David says he’s swamped and the moderators are burning out fast. He tried to shut down the website for a week, but that didn’t help. He is considering paying moderators, but is also welcoming ideas from others (any willing to help him with moderating).

: Mashada’s forums have been shut down. David, I’m sure this was a difficult step, but very much a necessary one. For those who are defending the right to free speech or to be aware of “situations” (please read this, I draw the line when that kind of speech is fueling the killings we are seeing in Kenya. No apologies. I don’t see any of those columnists advocating for open season comments and blogging, writing from an environment where people are hacking and burning each other to death with no end in sight.

I can’t speak for everyone who is blogging or hosting a chat room, but here’s my two cents…while opinions and emotions are heated and people need an outlet to voice their opinions; while it is sometimes difficult to know where to draw the line; while it is difficult to balance what we do on a voluntary basis and provide the forums that we provide vs. trying to pay the bills, it is our responsibility to do everything we can to make sure that when people are called to account for what has happened in Kenya (and I do hope there will be accounting one day), blogs and chatrooms are not high on the list of forums that were propagating hate.

37 comments to Technology and hate speech

  • What differentiates human beings and animals is the ability to choose right and wrong and in the light of what’s happening, I really don’t buy the “reaction” bs. Hate speech is unacceptable and should not be allowed. We are burning kenya with our future and our kids future still depending on it.

  • SM

    Ory, there’s a very thin line between moderation and outright censorship, the kind that the government has recently attempted through the curtailing of live broadcasts. It might be helpful to know what is on peoples’ minds. We ignored these deep-seated thoughts of hatred for a long time and now they have come to haunt the country. By not actively trying to bring down hate-related websites, the US government knows exactly what is being said and planned out there and is able to counteract that with ruthless efficiency. Let us not shut our eyes to the malignant anger and hatred that lies in our own hearts hoping that somehow it will go away. We should instead try to preach tolerance and peace otherwise we will fall guilty of the same things that we are trying to put an end to.

  • acolyte

    I guess at times censorship is needed and that is one of those times. People think that being behind a keyboard gives them the impunity to say things they know they would never say in public.
    I applaud you for not putting up that link as it would have just spawned more of the same hate speech.

  • Isindu Mwangaza

    Each of us need to demonstrated some degree of moderation. This issue came up weeks ago when insidious SMS messages spread from one region to another. On prevailing to some acquaintances that our actions cannot be oblivious of the sensitive nature of irresponsible or unverifiable SMS, the wrath was swift.

    Moderates are beginning to take sides and so are some blogs. I must say however that reality is setting in as many of us become directly or indirectly affected and most have regulated their rhetoric albeit grudgingly.

    The need to vent is natural however the craving for up to date communiques from media houses is immense and so far they have failed to deliver in as much as restrictions exists. The theme is communication all around. From elders, to leaders, from media houses to blogs and from friends to on another.

  • I have never understood those who defend inciteful speeach as simply one “airing out their thoughts” and “free speech.’ Yes you are free to speak, but you are also expected as a reasoning human being to be responsible with your speech. I for one think Mashada should be shut down until this thing ends. Mashada has been known to tolerate the worst kinds of filth from the minds of Kenyans, and this has been going on for years now.

    David should either moderate that website or shut it down. Ther e is no other choice for him if he is a responsible Kenyan

  • I agree with you Ory, at these time we bloggers should atleast keep our feelings and “angry” thoughts out of reach. At the end of the day, most of us are so far away from reality and whatever we are preaching is the information that is getting on the ground. I believe as bloggers we have a big role to play in the healing of the nation….

  • After seeing the photos of burned bodies and hacked people, I can tell you that I was seething. I did not care which tribe did this..I just wondered how another human being can despise life like that. When I come to blogs and see bloggers trashing each other on and posting of hate posts, I ache deeply.

  • Pragmatic

    I agree with SM. Here in the diaspora, I can go days/even weeks before meeting Kenyans, and might not be able to get the temperature. By going to Mashada, I have been able to what I feel avert dangerous situations. I have been able to read to what extent some people think and be able to deduce what some groups might think. I have bowed out of functions where I think my children could be at risk, and been able to show the stubborn teenager the extent of hate floating around, and have him understand that his father is not someone out to stop him having fun. I can’t watch him 24×7 but, if I can show, and convince him of the dangers he can take precautions.

  • I agree with SM. While it angers me at some of the comments that I have seen in the various forums, I do not think that any kind or level of censorship is necessary. There are issues that need to be brought out in the open and resolved. I do not know what my neighbor thinks of me, he will not tell me to my face but will tell me through technology. I cannot fix what I do not know. Keep the sites free. We obviously do not live in a free society, dont destroy our freedom of expression online.

  • It is very ossible to contain hate speech. Look at Kenya Imagine for an example. They have a couple of editors/moderators, who indeed manage to keep the site civilized.

  • Swahilijoe

    I have been telling David since last year that some moderation was needed after all the stuff people started posting before the elections. Mashada is just not read by Kenyans outside the country but also in Kenya.
    Before the elections there was talk on Mashada about people killing a certain tribe and i felt that this was harmful. I think its a good idea to close down the website for sometime till tensions cool down and after that we can continue.

  • bryjoe

    amen to that ..people should blog responsibly bearing in mind that whatever they say will most likely influence or annoy the hell outta someone else.
    bottom line for me is this: kenya ni yetu sote and we should all do our bit in bringing peace be it:donations,volunteering or even prayer and not forgeting Blog for peace

  • Ory,

    Sorry, I posted the other links on the wrong post. Here is another link from Jeff Jarvis


  • Imani

    Hey Ory,

    I have an otherwise rational boyfriend who admitted to posting flame s on Mashada just to get people riled up. That was pre-elections, but I am looking at him with great suspicion nowadays, cause I do not know what he is putting out there. He is one of many many Kenyans who is in a multi-tribal relationship too, so I do not know where we will live after this diaspora story ends and we get back to the KE.

  • Dave

    Its good to see you toning down. You were much too hyper in the early days of this tragedy. It’s your blog I know but counting backwards from 10 never hurt. Perhaps a lesson to carry in you professional life? Never show your hand too soon. It’s a discipline that has not let down many in public life.

    Good luck,

    A fan, by the way!

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  • […] Kudos to M, Whiteafrican and Pundit who have blazed the trail in responsible blogging at this […]

  • […] situation has been so bad that some comments have had to be deleted by the moderators. Kenyan Pundits gives an example: I’ve deleted a comment made by someone about the hate speech on Mashada, not because I disagree […]

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