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‘Jayden Iscariot’s betrayal of Raila sparks social media storm


In this week’s trend analysis report, we navigate the dynamic currents of digital dialogue from February 19 to February 25, 2024. From Pastor Benny Hinn’s crusade to the controversial #UhuruBacksKikwete saga, the blackouts during the President’s speech in Naivasha to Kelvin Kiptum’s house that was built in record 6 days.

#UhuruBacksKikwete & Jayden Iscariot

The hashtag #UhuruBacksKikwete dominated social media for over 12 hours, alongside the trending term “Jayden Iscariot” that persisted for more than 10 hours. Former President Uhuru Kenyatta, referred to as “Jayden” by Kenyans on social media, became the target of public outcry following the circulation of a photo depicting his alongside Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu at State House, Zanzibar. Speculations arose about a potential secret agreement to endorse retired Tanzanian Head of State Jakaya Kikwete for the African Union Commission chairperson. Netizens painted Uhuru as a traitor, given that Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga is also vying for the position. The discontentment centres around concerns that Uhuru’s actions may jeopardize Odinga’s chances, raising questions about transparency and loyalty. The discontent escalated to the point where digital cards from certain media houses were manipulated, incorporating their branding to give the impression of authenticity.

Impact on media

The spread of manipulated digital cards and the subsequent flagging by media houses emphasises the importance of reputation management for media outlets. Inaccuracies and fake information can harm a media organisation’s credibility.

The rapid spread of unverified information, as seen in the manipulation of digital cards, highlights the ongoing challenges media outlets face in combating misinformation. It is crucial for media to proactively address such instances to maintain public trust and credibility, especially during politically sensitive times.

The extensive trending of the Uhuru hashtags for over 12 hours showcases the powerful role of social media in shaping the news agenda. The public’s demand for transparency from political figures and their reactions to perceived betrayals illustrate that social media can significantly influence the narratives covered by traditional media.

President Ruto & blackouts

On February 21, 2024, a moment of national embarrassment unfolded at the national Executive retreat in Naivasha as President William Ruto addressed Cabinet Secretaries. His speech was marred by two power blackouts, each occurring within a span of three minutes. A similar incident ocurred on February 25, 2024, when President Ruto’s speech at Kasarani gymnasium was interrupted for five minutes. These recurring disruptions underscore the urgency of addressing the issue of power interruptions. Given that these events occurred during nationally significant gatherings, it becomes a matter of national interest to investigate and rectify the situation promptly. The interruptions not only detract from the gravity of the President’s messages but also pose a potential risk to the seamless functioning of key national events.

Impact on media

The incidents attracted significant media attention. Such heightened coverage can lead to increased viewership, readership, and engagement across various media platforms as the public seeks information and analysis regarding the power interruptions and their implications.

Media outlets’ reputations could be influenced by how they handle the coverage. Outlets that provide balanced, factual, and insightful reporting may enhance their credibility, while those perceived as sensationalising or biased might face criticism.

Kiptum’s House
After the tragic death of world marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum, the government rushed to build his family a house before burial. The seven-day construction, starting on February 15, 2024, faced public backlash for its design and technology choices. Facebook users criticised every step, and upon the skeleton’s completion on February 20, images flooded the platform, dominating trends and expressing disappointment in the government’s material choices for a world champion’s housing.

Impact on media

The continuous updates on the house construction amplified the presence of Eldoret-based digital content creators on Facebook and in mainstream media. The daily progress reports sparked widespread engagement, discussions, and media coverage. Some social media users also took to their pages to spread misinformation about the house.

Local broadcasters experienced a significant surge in viewership as the public sought information on the construction and its developments. The urgency to meet the seven-day deadline triggered debates on the government’s responsibility in safeguarding athletes.

Bishop Johanna video trends

On February 21, a deeply unsettling video surfaced on social media depicting a cleric, identified as Bishop Johanna, engaging in what appeared like inappropriate exorcism of demons from a female congregant. Bishop Johanna addresses a demon named ‘Carol’ while applying holy oil and engaging in inappropriate physical contact with the woman. The distressing footage quickly gained traction, going viral and garnering the attention of over 2,600 Facebook users who either posted or shared it. This incident ignited a fervent debate on social media around the necessity of regulating religious practices to prevent instances of manipulation and potential harm. The discussion drew parallels to the #Shakakhola deaths last year.

Impact on media

The video underscores the imperative for journalists to address the reporting of religious extremism. It has prompted a wider discourse regarding the ethical considerations involved in disseminating such incidents and has ignited debates about the extent to which social media users should be granted freedom to share content of this nature. The incident has also brought attention to the question of responsibility in regulating the content circulated on social media platforms.

This social media coverage has the potential to contribute significantly to a more extensive conversation about religious brainwashing. The discussions sparked by the video may lead to investigations that aim to regulate religious spaces, shedding light on the potential dangers of extremism. In a similar vein to the media’s role in exposing the Shakahola incident, this coverage has the power to create awareness, initiate inquiries, and potentially pave the way for increased oversight of religious practices in order to safeguard individuals and prevent instances of exploitation or harm.

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