A Maasai tribeswoman votes at a polling station in Olepolos primary school in Kisamis, Kenya on August 8, 2017.
A Maasai tribeswoman votes at a polling station in Olepolos primary school in Kisamis, Kenya on August 8, 2017.

Social media has played a major role in the lead up to Tuesday's elections in Kenya which pitted President Uhuru Kenyatta against Raila Odinga, a former political prisoner.

Campaigning was marked by fiery rhetoric, but public speeches were largely free of the ethnic hatred that has marred previous contests as the two men faced off for the second time.

However, Kenya – described as Africa's technology hub – has a vast and vibrant community on social media. Players in this very same virtual space have also added to the circulation of fake news and hate speech.

During the election campaign, two fake video news reports with logos of the BBC and CNN were circulated on social media. They disseminated bogus polling information.

"I think the big thing to watch out for is the speed at which information travels and the fact that we can't actually see what is being discussed," said Nanjala Nyabola, a political analyst. "When you think about networks like WhatsApp and you think about networks like Telegram, the fact that you can't see the conversations and how they are travelling."

Fake messages and news can play a huge role in spreading hate. A single tweet can spark violence.

In 2007, the violence that followed elections continued in 2008 and claimed over a thousand lives.

TRT World's Fidelis Mbah looks at whether social media can lead to post-election violence again in the East African nation.

Source: TRT World