Ethiopia developing local social media. It accused Facebook of restricting contents with accurate information about the situation in the country. Facebook has not yet reacted to it
Ethiopia’s existential war against the terrorist Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a group that seems to be enjoying tacit support from western government’s, primarily the United States of America and the United Kingdom, has revealed Ethiopia’s apparent vulnerability in the cyberwar.
Ethiopia won the war against the TPLF in a matter of a few weeks (back in December 2020). But the propaganda war was entirely a different story.
Wealthy and connected TPLF supporters in the diaspora, including the World Health Organization Director General, Tedros Adhanoum, relied on spending from the stashed away sordid gain to create a strong propaganda nexus between lobbyists and giant publishers, and even rights groups.
In almost no time, the TPLF force in the diaspora was able to turn upside down the reality about the conflict in the northern part of Ethiopia.
TPLF, the very ethnic supremacist party that started the war when it attacked several bases of the Northern Command of the Ethiopian Defense Force, was portrayed as a victim. Apparently, the difficulty of painting the TPLF, which ruled Ethiopia ruthlessly for three decades with tremendous financial and military support from the U.S. among others, that way was understood to the point that much of the propaganda was waged on alleged grounds of “humanitarian crisis and human rights abuses in Tigray.”
Where the social media comes in and how it impacted the propaganda war
The bulk of distribution of the manufactured image (created by the nexus of lobbyists, publishers and “human rights defenders” including “experts in Ethiopian affairs”) of the situation in the Tigray region happens via the use of social media, primarily Twitter and Facebook.
The support from social media companies seemed to have come in the form of restricting accounts of activists , in some cases including local platforms like borkena which was restricted from sharing contents from borkena website to Facebook fan page, not to counter the orchestrated TPLF propaganda.
Facebook restricted the accounts of several Ethiopian activists, who are not even supporters of the ruling government, on alleged grounds of “violating community” standards. That is just among the many unfair practices against users.
The impact of it was huge. Ethiopia’s justified self-defense and law enforcement campaign was perverted to the point that a claim emerged that “a genocide is underway in Tigray.”
The U.S. State Department and the European Union issued statements after statements crying foul over alleged blockade of “humanitarian access” and “human rights violations.
Because of that situation, Ethiopian activists have been pushing the Ethiopian government to develop a social media platform that would in the course of time reverse the impacts of social media like Facebook.
The Ethiopian government had other reasons. Radicalized ethnic groups, many of whom tend to see political activists as a shortcut to fame and wealth, who want to tear the country apart, used platforms like Facebook even to call for an outright massacre of Ethiopians on grounds of ethnicity.
There were instances when the Ethiopian government had to block social media in the country.
Ethiopia to get local social media platform
The Information Network Security Agency (INSA)has disclosed this week that it is working on social media platforms. Director of the Agency, Shumete Gizaw, however, said that Ethiopia will not restrict other social media platforms once it has completed developing its own.
He accused Facebook of restricting posts and page owners that share accurate information about Ethiopia. Facebook has not yet responded to the accusation.
Details of the new social media platform that Ethiopia is working on, including project completion time frame. are undisclosed.