Despite what we are going through right now, the cyberbullying pandemic got here first. Cyberbullying is still alive and well even as we battle with Covid-19.
Using the internet and mobile tech to harm, intimidate or harass another person (cyberbullying) proved to carry devastating consequences.
Cyberbullying affects all spectrums of people. Anyone who is bullied online or using various techniques will feel the negative impact. No one is immune, not even the Kenyan president who was bullied off Twitter.
Adults, children, influential people, media personalities, and celebrities have infamously carried this cross.
Technology is Two Sides of a Coin
The most visible impact of the new age of technology is dissolving geographical and political barriers worldwide. People easily connect and engage in conversations about things that concern them.
We have seen how powerful hashtags can be in movements like Black Lives Matter or Kenyans for Kenya. More recently, Kenyans on Twitter Joined hands to advocate for justice for brothers felled by police brutality.
Kenyans on social media successfully supported both global and national movements. It is common to see people mobilizing o raise funds for medical bills, rent arrears, and even “fare” for job hunting citizens.
On the downside, online harassment and cyberbullying have caused untold pain to millions. The effects have included:
- Ruined lives
- Destroyed integrity
- Affected health and mental well-being
- Ruined career progression
Kenyan cyberspace is a landmine of violence and disorder. In 2020, Kenyans were ranked as the worst bullies.
New Forms of Violence
New technology came with new forms of violence. Women and young girls are particularly vulnerable to this form of violence. However, this violence targets both men and women.
- Sexual harassment
- Gender-based technologically motivated violence
Traditional gender violence is a familiar occurrence for many people. However, it has gained a new dimension online. It is a part of the violence meted online.
Bullying was reserved for schools and sports. It has also found its way into social media, made worse by the cloak of anonymity.
Tech-driven violence in Kenyan cyberspace is waged using mobile devices, computers, and tablets.
Cyberbullying became more rampant in Kenya because the use of electronic gadgets is more widespread now than ever.
We can define it again as using the internet and social media to demean, belittle, degrade, and embarrass someone intentionally. Cyberbullying takes place on any kind of electronic medium.
Cyberbullying takes many forms, including:
- Threats of sexual violence
- Sexual harassment
- Body shaming
- Revenge porn
- Hate speech
- Professional sabotage
- Death threats
- Deliberately sharing harmful/embarrassing content
Even though this list is long, it is not the end of the many faces of cyberbullying.
Kenya’s cyberbullying is unique. Research by the UNODC revealed that Kenyans on Twitter are a vicious army known as #KOT. When slighted, his collective comes together to demolish their enemies, both real and perceived.
#KOT attacks anyone. Powerful conglomerates, presidents, entire countries, and individuals.
Major news outlets such as CNN and the New York times previously witnessed the wrath of #KOT. They learned the hard way from relentless cyberbullying to think carefully about what they tweet about Kenya.
Countries engaged in a Twitter war with Kenya and felt the heat. They include Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria and China. After all these feuds, no one likes to start a Twitter war with Kenya.
Wat makes #KOT vicious cyberbullies is the fact that they attack without necessarily considering the truth. They also disregard any benefit of the doubt.
How to Report an Incident of Cyberbullying in Kenya
The government of Kenya recognizes cyberbullying as a grave problem. There have been attempts to develop a Cybersecurity Framework to handle online bullying.
The police handle cases of cyberbullying via the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI). The DCI will investigate all claims based on evidence.
What to do
When someone or a group of people is bullying you online, there is a portal to log in to your incident. Visit the National KE-CIRT/CC website to access the portal.
- Click on this site.
- Scroll down the page to the “Report an Incident” section and choose the “Report” option.
- Next, you’ll get fields to write in your details and the subject of your experience.
- Once you are done filling, click “Submit” for your complaint to go to the relevant authorities.
- Write a letter detailing your experience addressed to the Director-General of the Communications Authority of Kenya. Address it via their P.O box number.
- Physically present yourself to the Communications Authorities office at Waiyaki Way.
- Write an email of the bullying incident and address it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Call the authority using hotlines- +254703042700 or +254730172700.
Any of these methods will submit your complaint to a team that will investigate it and reach out to you later.
Understanding Kenya’s Tech Potential
In 2019, the Global Innovation Index ranked Kenya as the second-best innovation hub in Sub-Saharan Africa. The leading position went to South Africa. Kenya’s ICT revolution recorded massive gains in under six years.
Another promising statistic from the Communications Authority of Kenya is that internet penetration in Kenya is at 112%. The broadband internet connection in Kenya increased by at least 14%.
The increase in broadband connections bought the number of internet users to 51 million users. Accessible mobile internet is the main reason behind a large number of connected users in Kenya.
How High Connectivity Contributed to cyber Bullying
Increased connectivity throughout the country means more Kenyans are connecting on social media than ever before. Kenyans use these platforms to communicate, share updates, and tackle meaningful conversations about national events.
Google Consumer Barometer conducted a survey that revealed 90% of Kenyans use the internet to visit various social media. Popular platforms include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn.
Another 80% of Kenyans log in to access instant messaging services as well as emails.
With this connectivity, all forms of violence exist physically in Kenya to demean, belittle, degrade, and embarrass someone intentionally transfer to the online sphere. Cyberbullying is evolving, but it is rife and ungovernable in Kenyan cyberspace.