Social media giant Facebook on Sunday flagged as “false” a congratulatory message from Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta to his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni, for winning a sixth term in office.
Facebook said “independent fact-checkers” had noted the information was “false”.
State House had issued a statement congratulating President Museveni after he was declared winner of the election with 58.64 percent of votes cast against his closest challenger Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, who won 34.83 percent.
State House said Museveni’s re-election was “a testimony of the confidence the people of Uganda have in his leadership”.
President Kenyatta further said he looked forward to “deepening the strong bilateral ties between Kenya and Uganda for the mutual benefit of the people of the two republics”.
It is possible Facebook flagged the post after it was accompanied by a portrait of the Ugandan leader, which had been prominent on other Ugandan government pages, which the social media giant flagged last week for carrying false political messages deemed inciting.
Usually, Facebook flags posts for violations of its policy and often requires the creator or publisher to delete the post, correct the message and reload it.
Facebook and other social media giants have tried to fight fake news and false information after claims emerged their platforms had been used to influence elections around the world.
This is the second time that controversy has resulted from a congratulatory message from President Kenyatta to the Ugandan leader who has ruled since 1986.
In February 2016, the President was roasted by netizens after he was the first to congratulate Museveni for what he said a victory that showed “Ugandans have spoken clearly” of their choice.
Many observers of that election, including the European Union, said the vote had been marred by irregularities including constant harassment of then opposition leader Kizza Besigye.
This time, Museveni preceded the elections by banning internet access after Facebook and Twitter removed some accounts operated by his officials.
But Wine claimed fraud and said military personnel had surrounded his house, preventing his family from getting food supplies.
“We have run out of food supplies and when my wife tried to pick food from the garden yesterday, she was blocked and assaulted by the soldiers staged in our compound,” Wine said on Sunday on his Twitter page.
The flagging of the Kenyan leader’s post, however, did not stop other leaders from voicing their congratulations.
Tanzania’s John Magufuli said his country would strive to “maintain the friendship and brotherhood for the wider benefits for our people”.
“Congratulations, Ugandans, for successfully completing your elections … continue maintaining peace and love,” he said in Kiswahili.
His Burundian counterpart Evariste Ndayishimiye extended “warmest congratulations on the occasion of your re-election”.
“The Ugandan people have made a tremendous choice, which will strengthen your remarkable contribution to the EA Community to which belong Uganda and Burundi,” he said.