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Viral screenshot of tweet targeting Kenyan Citizen TV journalist not from TV channel but ‘parody’ account

IN SHORT: A snapshot of the effect of Twitter changing its verification policy was seen on Kenyan social media in April 2023, when an account impersonating Citizen TV tweeted an inappropriate update which went viral. It wasn’t genuine, but appeared to fool many.

In November 2022, social networking platform Twitter announced that users would start paying a monthly fee to get or keep their verification badges. This blue checkmark or tick had previously indicated that an account was “official” and legitimate, and not an impersonation. 

Starting April 2023, the company started removing the badges from accounts that had not paid for the subscription.

On 21 April, just hours after the company removed the badge for Citizen TV – a privately owned TV channel that broadcasts across Kenya – a tweet by the account Citizen Tv Kenya went viral. 

It reads: “Our News Anchor Mashirima Kapombe is currently having Periodic crumps hence not making an appearance in tonight's Kiswahili segment.”

Mashirima Kapombe is a news anchor at the station.

The tweet has attracted over 748,000 views on Twitter and hundreds of engagements.

A screenshot of the post also found its way to Facebook and was posted here, here, here and here.

But did the TV channel post this unlikely and unprofessional tweet? We checked.


Tweet not from Citizen TV, account calls itself ‘parody’

There are a number of signs that the tweet was not posted by the TV station.

While the original Twitter account of the TV channel has the handle @citizentvkenya, the suspicious account uses the handle @Psychohsins_. 

It is also highly unlikely that the channel would tweet such an update, speculating about an anchor having menstrual cramps.

The UN has noted that while menstruation is a normal biological process, “it continues to be a target for discrimination and humiliation”.

The tweet was not posted by and does not appear on the timeline of the Citizen TV Kenya account. This official account has now been reverified.

The fake account claims to be a parody account in its description. It says: “Official Citizen Parody Account-Uniting All Kenyans.” But parody is usually humorous, and it’s difficult to see what is meant to be funny by this particular tweet. 

Through its verified Facebook page, the TV channel has stamped the tweet “fake”.

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