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No, Kenyan president William Ruto hasn’t ordered closure of AI chatbot ChatGPT, online graphic is fake

IN SUMMARY: The artificial intelligence chatbot has taken the world by storm. But claims that Kenya's leader is so worried about its effect on students that he has banned it in the country are false.

A graphic circulating on social media claims that Kenyan president William Ruto has instructed that ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence-powered chatbot, be “disabled” in Kenya from 13 May 2023.

The graphic reads: “‘Students in most universities are not using their brains anymore because of AI technology which in turn gaining low skills’ Pres. Ruto orders ChatGPT disabled in Kenya as from 13th May 2023.”

The graphic shows a photo of Ruto, who appears to be giving a speech, and the logo of the popular Kenyan news website Tuko.

ChatGPT is an advanced computer program, designed to converse with people in a natural and engaging way. It has been trained on a huge amount of information and can answer questions, engage in conversation, and provide information on various topics. It can even generate what will appear to be creative content, such as stories. 

Launched to the public by US-based research company OpenAI in November 2022, ChatGPT has attracted widespread attention – and competition – for its potential to change the way we learn, communicate and interact with computers.

But there are also concerns about its use, for example that it could lead to job losses or help students plagiarise in schools and universities. 

The graphic, claiming the Kenyan president wants the program banned in the country, has also been published here, here, here, here, here and here.

But did Tuko really quote Ruto as saying this?


Ignore fake graphic

Many readers thought the graphic’s claim was true. One user said they would use VPNs – virtual private networks – to get around such a restriction. This technology allows you to keep your online activities private and secure by encrypting your connection and hiding your real location.

However, the poor grammar in the graphic raised a red flag. This would be unlikely in something published by a trusted mainstream news organisation, such as Tuko. But just to be sure, we contacted Tuko on Facebook to ask if this was one of their graphics.

“The information is misleading and does not originate from us. If it is not on our official platforms, it does not belong to us,” Tuko replied.

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