Social media trolls Thursday staged an Internet attack on the Nation Media Group over the coverage seen as critical of government projects.
The bloggers are believed to be associated with senior government officials and have previously attacked Chief Justice David Maraga, the Judiciary, ODM leader Raila Odinga, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, governors Mike Sonko, Anyang’ Nyong’o, Wycliffe Oparanya, and rights activist Boniface Mwangi.
The sophisticated campaign, believed to have been designed by a Nairobi-based public relations firm, started at dawn and went on for several hours.
The troll was launched by Mr Mwangi Francis and Mr Polycarp Hinga. They were joined by more bloggers, most of who have attacked the media and critics of the Jubilee administration.
The other key attackers were Mr Benard Kibet, who claims to be a journalist, Mr Kennedy Gichuru, Mr Ngure Paul, Mr Justus Ondieki and Mr Kevin Munyui. They criticised NMG’s coverage of the standard gauge railway and the proposed housing project.
They also took issue with NMG’s coverage of the government’s big appetite for loans, the 2022 succession politics and succession at the Kenya Revenue Authority, and published photographs of Nation journalists and columnists who have covered these issues.
State House Chief of Staff Nzioka Waita disassociated his office from the attack.
“I can assure you this did not come from State House,” he said when asked for comment.
CODE OF ETHICS
“It would be counterintuitive (for us) to engage in such an attack after all the work we have done building relationships… The attacks are coming from elsewhere, and we all know who uses such attacks — and it is not the presidency, and the presidency is not collective,” he said.
Mr Dennis Itumbi, the Secretary for Digital, who operates from DP Ruto’s office at Harambee House Annex, tweeted: “To understand who owns this group singing a scripted hashtag, look at their past tweets. Same sounds and noise, same lyrics — same owner.”
The Media Council of Kenya condemned the unwarranted troll.
“While the media is subject to public criticism and feedback, the council has noted that the originators of the campaign have not cited any specific issues on contravention of the code of ethics on the practice of journalism in Kenya,” council CEO David Omwoyo said in a statement.
He called on the police to investigate the attack, the bloggers and their financiers.
“The council wishes to express solidarity with the Nation Media Group, and indeed the wider media industry, in condemning the unwarranted attack,” he said.
“The council welcomes any institution that is aggrieved by the conduct of the media house to file an official complaint to the MCK complaints commission.”
Some Twitter users criticised the bloggers and accused them of abusing the freedom of expression and the microblog.
The bloggers are known to work for government officials and politicians, who pay them to tarnish the names of individuals and corporates they perceive to be against them. They also work for businesses and marketers keen to disparage their rivals.
Sometimes they are hired to promote events and products, and to put out positive tweets on behalf of individuals.
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