Kenya's president confirms he shut down social media accounts because of bullying

Shola Lawal
·1 min read
President Uhuru Kenyatta was once one of Africa’s most-followed leaders - AP
President Uhuru Kenyatta was once one of Africa’s most-followed leaders - AP

President Uhuru Kenyatta, once one of Africa’s most-followed leaders, said on Wednesday that he was bullied off Twitter by Kenyan citizens, shedding light on a months-long mystery that confused his nearly four million followers.

Mr Kenyatta's accounts on Twitter and Facebook disappeared on March 22 2019 year after he tweeted about fighting corruption. 

Authorities claimed that the president’s account was hacked but provided no evidence.

However in a recent speech, Mr Kenyatta, once tagged a 'digital president' for his friendly use of social media, said he went off social networks because of the constant barrage of insults Kenyan netizens hurled at him.

“I left Twitter because there’s just insulting,” President Uhuru said in Swahili. “I’d rather talk to my wife, sleep and wake up in the morning to work.”

In a country where around 10 million people have access to the internet, Kenyans have widely taken to social media platforms to discuss politics. 

Unofficially called KOT, or Kenyans on Twitter, the online cohort are some of the most active social media users on the continent, known for stinging virtual disagreements with politicians and nationals of other countries.

A bill put forward to regulate social media in 2019 generated such backlash it was swiftly dropped. 

Author Nanjala Nyabola told the Telegraph that the growth of social media was 'keeping the feet of power to the fire in a way that has become difficult to do offline because of [Kenyatta's] creeping restrictions on freedom of expression and expression and association."

"It's a shame that instead of rising to the challenge... he has chosen to run away."