William Ruto, the deputy president of Kenya, is giving cash to his supporters to promote his 2022 election campaign, according to posts on the Facebook page “Deputy Samoei Williams Ruto”. The country is set to hold general elections in August.
“Have you ever received my promotion?” asks one of many similar posts on the page. “Today is another day am giving out worthy ksh45 000 to my fans who will support my elections. Fellow hustlers if interested and ready kindly inbox your number and name in order to receive your promotion Immediately.”
Ruto’s “Hustler Nation” slogan aims to appeal to what the BBC calls “those – especially young people – who struggle to make ends meet in an economy that is said to be no longer working for them”.
Another post reads: “Today is your day to receive the promotion? Am supporting my Kenyan fans with ksh78 000 now as a promotion. Are you prepared to receive yours?”
The page uses images of Ruto in its cover and profile photos, and always asks for people’s phone numbers. But is it really run by the deputy president’s campaign?
How to tell if a Facebook page really represents a public figure
Facebook allows public figures such as Ruto to verify their pages on the platform. These pages carry the “blue tick” verification badge.
“The verified badge appears next to a Facebook Page or profile. It means Facebook has confirmed that the Page or profile is the authentic presence of the public figure or global brand that it represents,” Facebook says.
“The verified badge is a tool to help people find public figures and brands' real Pages and profiles. If a Page or profile has the verified badge, we've confirmed that it represents who it says it does. If the badge isn't there, it may not be the real Page or profile.”
The page offering cash – “Deputy Samoei Williams Ruto” – is not verified. Ruto’s real Facebook page is “William Samoei Ruto”, which is not only verified with the blue tick but spells his first name correctly.
Ruto’s page was created in July 2011 and currently has some 1.9 million followers. The bogus page has no information in its “about” section, but its first post was on 20 January 2022, and it has just 5,000 or so friends – not followers.
And Ruto’s verified Facebook page makes no offers of cash to supporters.
More than this, the posts on the fake page are full of spelling and grammar errors. This would be unlikely on a Facebook account representing Kenya’s deputy president.
It’s not clear what the motive is. The page may be an attempt to scam people, given that it asks for users’ phone numbers. It may also be part of the wave of disinformation about election candidates increasingly flooding social media as Kenya’s August polls approach.
Just in case, read our guide to Facebook scams and how to spot them.
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