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Facebook Messenger Bots Help Monitor Kenya Election Violence


The following is an excerpt from Katie Collins | August 8, 2017 | CNET.com |

Facebook Messenger bots are used for everything from ordering food to reading news to booking flights. In the hands of crisis-mapping platform Ushahidi, they're also monitoring election-related violence.

Tuesday is election day in Kenya, which in a year of critical elections around the globe might make it seem like just another day. But it's not.

Presidential elections in Kenya -- where dynasties face off, tribal allegiances are intense and bribery is rife -- can lead to bloodbaths. Last week, the head of information, communication and technology at Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission was found dead after he was kidnapped and tortured.

More violence is expected.

If it comes, Nairobi-based Ushahidi will be there to document it. The platform was born 10 years ago in the wake of a political, social-economic and humanitarian crisis in Kenya. From 2007 to 2008 in Kenya, up to 1,500 people were killed and hundreds of thousands were displaced from their homes. Since then, Ushahidi has been used not only in Kenya, but across the world, including in the US during last year's presidential election, which sparked 300 reports of violence.

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