Social media has over the time been a tool used to bring people together. It has made communication fast, easy and convenient. It has turned the world into a global village, all thanks to technology.
People around the globe are communicating and socializing through the social space. People are able to exchange ideas without necessarily having to meet and talk on a face to face basis.
In Kenya, social media has greatly reshaped how people communicate and how brands and campaigners get their messages across their intended audiences.
According to a report by Portland Africa and GeoPoll, 49 percent of Kenyans use social media as a channel to access news about the forthcoming general election.
The report further disclosed that Kenya has 10 million WhatsApp users, 6 million Facebook users, 1.5 million LinkedIn users and 3 million Instagram users as mobile penetration in the country hits 90 percent according to the statistics from the Communication Authority of Kenya.
Sadly, the report revealed that social media has turned to be a tool for spreading the fake news in Kenya, especially during the prolonged electioneering period. WhatsApp and Facebook were stated to be the main platforms linked to the fake news on Kenya polls.
According to a piece done by Mr. Miller, The Tyranny of Numbers on Social Media during Kenya’s 2017 Elections, Facebook Audience insights estimate that 4.3 to 5.1 million users visit the platform monthly and 85 percent are located in Nairobi. Mombasa accounts for 3 percent of users, Eldoret and Nakuru account for 0.9 percent each, and Kisumu occupies the 5th position with the user base of 0.6 percent.
The disparities in terms of demographics are not limited to Facebook. A similar analysis was done by Sochin Limited, which looked at the geo-tagging of 728,074 Twitter posts: 85 percent referenced Nairobi, 6.1 percent Mombasa, 3.8 percent Nakuru, 2.5 percent Kisumu and Uasin Gishu.
With an increase in the number of people accessing the social media, it could have a great impact when they spread out peace messages that will unite everyone instead of spreading hate on the platforms.
But where is the understanding of skillful communication? Many people today want to be the first to spread the news on social media. Unfortunately, most of us have completely forgotten that the main purpose of social media platforms is to feed the audience with facts and not opinions.
Once you feed people with opinions instead of facts, they instead become facts and this will purely take away the natural thinking process of man’s mind.
It is everyone’s responsibility to work towards promoting peace on social media. Let all of us understand that a country is a constitution of its people, it’s culture and its diversity. It is the role of social media to promote all these and present it as being superior and attractive. We need to think positively in and always post messages that are productive in promoting peace.
The social media should take responsibility in promoting peace initiatives, support individuals and groups who are involved in the peace process, highlight the good as journalists, suppress and correct the bad. It needs to also encourage dialogue among people from different ethnic backgrounds and nationalities. This can positively change the perception of ethnicity, modify attitudes promote tolerance and mutual understanding.
Bloggers need to change their perception from using the non-factual information to make money for themselves. They need to use the available social media platforms to be tools that are used in communicating peace and prosperity.
Social media users are requested to post responsibly. This is not the time to stir up conflicts among tribes, nations and so on but aim at preventing them. Engaging the ordinary citizens and making them aware of the power of social media is a crucial step in transforming communities and curbing violence. These are the change makers at the grassroots level, they are the key to effective actions.