mugabe
Image: Theguardian.com

I’m writing this with a heavy heart.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen several stories trending all over and even becoming major topics of discussions offline.

It started with a string of stories about Donald Trump saying some nasty things about Kenyans. A blog, ‘Politics.co.ke’, crafted the story so well that it fooled nearly everyone.

It’s not unlike Trump to say nasty things about people, but at no point in his campaign has he talked of deporting Kenyans in particular.

After seeing the success of that story, the same blog published these other stories with varied success.

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You can tell Trump is a big topic and Kenyans have an appetite for roasting him. And this is fodder for any blogger interested in making quick cash.

Now back to the Mugabe story.

I was pretty shocked to see the story first on Caroline Mutoko’s page. Understandable if it came from another media personality, but Caroline Mutoko is like the SI unit of facts in the media. So sad.

caro

The story continued to be publicized hours later by many respected media houses and personalities. This was even after it emerged it was a fake. But I guess they have to get listeners and viewers anyway they can.

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I don’t want to comment on our brainpower as Kenyans, but maybe we should rethink our 844 system.

And clickbaiting is more widespread than you think. We see it everyday everywhere. On blogs, newspapers, even TV news headlines.

This guy on Facebook hit the nail on the head.

chicken

When I see men and women commenting passionately about these stories, without even suspecting they may be fake, I wonder; I’m I of a higher IQ or is everyone else just dumb?

Good news is I’m not alone. There’s a small minority of sober Kenyans on social media who seek the truth first. These ones will come in handy as we approach the elections when gutter blogs, shoddy news sources, and dumb mainstream news editors will seek to exploit Kenyans’ fragile emotions in a way that can cause suspicion among communities leading to violence.

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It’s easy actually to be on the right side. Be skeptical about every controversial story you read online. Then Google and if no credible news source corroborates, ignore it.

One last thing. People do not like being shown their mistakes, so I’m pretty sure this information will not go viral like the fake stories, but at least it’s off my chest. I needed to say this to feel half better.