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No, Ben Carson did not tweet this about doctors’ strike

Dr Ben Carson is an inspiration: Rising from poverty, the nominee for US Secretary for Housing and Urban Development became a renowned surgeon with specialty in performing life-saving operations in Africa.

But Twitter users fixed him on Tuesday. With a persistent doctors’ strike in Kenya and their union leaders jailed briefly for contempt, one user created a fake tweet implying that the American surgeon who, ran but failed in the recent US elections, was chiding the Kenyan government.

“Came across sad news from Kenya. Their judiciary jails doctors. Such a pathetic government,” the supposed tweet read.

The tweet on the fake Ben Carson Twitter handle. PHOTO | COURTESY
The tweet on the fake Ben Carson Twitter handle. PHOTO | COURTESY

A screenshot of the tweet, spread by many users under hashtag #AsystemIsComingDown, indicated that it had been written and posted on Monday by Dr Carson’s verified account: @RealBenCarson.

And many user especially the medics angry at the government for jailing their union leaders, felt one of their own was feeling their predicament, albeit miles away.

BOGUS HANDLE

But a closer look shows it is bogus. The tweet doesn’t exist on his handle and Dr Carson’s last message on his Twitter page was on New Year’s Day.

In fact, as a nominee for a cabinet post, the use of the word ‘pathetic’ to describe another government was unlikely from a man who may have to deal with foreign entities, especially governments keen to learn about US housing policies.

But as the tweets started to fizzle, some users started to acknowledge the tweet wasn’t genuine and alerted others that it was not legit.

With the internet age, fake news has become so common online and people will go as far as screen shooting a genuine tweet, editing out the message and date and replacing with their controversial dispatch.

Then it spread like wildfire, with bloggers riding on users’ misinformation to make money from advertising.
Last year in May, the Nation had to clarify rumours spreading online about the “death” of Kenya’s 9th Vice President Moody Awori.

A crafty blogger created a false tweet and embedded it to create an impression that Nation had broken the ‘news’. It was a bad joke.

FAKE SITES

The bogus blogger had gone on to falsify Twitter messages of prominent politicians appearing to react to the news.

They all disowned the messages.

But Twitter is not the only one. Facebook is still awash with fake sites quoting non-existent quotes from Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.

In November 2015, Jeffrey Gettleman, the New York Times correspondent in Kenya found himself in awkward position after falling prey to the fake Mugabe quotes.

And his paper had to correct a story on Kenyan corruption that had initially carried fictitious comments about Mugabe chiding Kenya’s inherent tendency to steal.

FAKE OR GENUINE?

Recently, both Google and Facebook announced they would crackdown on fake news sites posted on their platforms, as a way of cutting their access to ad revenues they don’t deserve.

So, next time you want to know what is fake or genuine, the power is in your hands. There are several tools you can use to flag a false story.

Some of them include easy steps like knowing how to differentiate between jokes and truth, determining the credibility of the author or just backup info.

There are also some fact-checking websites that can help you determine if one’s said comments are valid.