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HomeNewsInvestigative report reveals gov't "media army" disseminate misleading, false information 

Investigative report reveals gov’t “media army” disseminate misleading, false information 

Ethiopian _ media army _
Image credit : BBC Amharic

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Toronto – Ethiopia’s ruling Prosperity Party has been facing a brick wall of legitimacy crisis following its failure to deliver on promised reform measures including broadening the democratic space in the country and protecting the security of Ethiopians. 

The chaotic state of governance Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed demonstrated over the last five years has only been deteriorating to the point that his government has resorted to outright tyrannical government. In February this year, Reuters investigative report uncovered that Abiy Ahmed’s government’s secret killing squad – kore negegna – was behind many of the killings and kidnappings in the Oromo region of Ethiopia. The latest known victim of the killing squad is Bate Urgessa – Oromo Liberation Front political officer –  who was killed in Meki – his home town – about two weeks ago. 

Today, BBC Amharic published an investigative report revealing that the government’s “media army” has been engaged in disseminating misleading and false information on social media platforms.

The report said that the ruling party’s “media army” organized under Addis Ababa City Prosperity Branch Office has been engaged in “the distribution of false information on Facebook against individuals criticizing the government, and they have participated in disseminating information and images that could be regarded as hate  speech.’

Weeks before BBC Amharic published this report, Ethio News – a credible local news provider – reported that Addis Ababa City Prosperity Party evaluation warned members who were not sharing and liking content from Addis Ababa City Mayor and that they were denied access to subsidized consumption goods including sugar. 

BBC Amharic report reveals that district-level leaders in the capital Addis Ababa and employees in the structure took part in the dissemination of misleading and false information intended to make the government’s image acceptable to the public. 

The source said that it looked into messages on Whatsapp and Telegram channels that employees in structures of seven sub-cities of Addis Ababa exchanged over the past several weeks. It confirms that misleading false information was widely shared by the “media army.” It is also indicated that Facebook data was analyzed for the same purpose, and that it confirmed the trend. 

The BBC Amharic has reached out to ruling party authorities regarding the “media army,” but the party denied, in writing, that there is no such structure as “media army.”  The office rather indicated that attributing  “false information” and “hate speech” to it are “unacceptable.”

Some of the examples that BBC cited to demonstrate the problem are related to His Grace Abune Petros whom the ruling party “media army” portrayed as if he fled the country in January and that the context was shared on the same day at least 898 times.  BBC Amharic cited numerous other examples. 

The news will not come as a surprise to many politicized Ethiopians as it has been years since Abiy Ahmed’s government is understood as having an attribute “confuse of convince” governing strategy.  The way the memorandum of understanding with Somaliland was presented to the public at the time – and through state-owned media outlets – was as if Ethiopia “secured access to the sea.” Later, as suspected, it was found out to be entirely false information. 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. This revealing story does not come as shocking to me. Self aggrandizing propaganda has been one of the tools sitting governments use to maintain their hold on the political power throughout history. They use every means to prop up their status above every one else and they use that to demonize those who stand in their ways. They launch verbal and written charges against you first before they eliminate you. Mengistu, liberation fronts and opposition groups used that method against their opponents from the bottom of the deck. Then it used to be in newspapers, radio, tv, pamphlets and mass rallies to create hysteria. But know you have this one side of all these social media weapons of mass destruction.

    The current government seems to be doubted by the citizens of that country after an exciting start in 2018. Many in Oromia have spat it out and just as many in Amhara region don’t wanna hear even the word ‘Prosperity’ in their neck of wood. Long range artillery volleys, drones and search and liquidate did not bring the desired plan to roost. It could be a time of desperation and during such a predicament that is why such an all out propaganda campaign does not come as a surprise to me. But it worries me a lot when it is a glaring fact that there is no viable opposition strong enough to cut the mustard. It is danger time for that gem of the colored.

  2. As far as some of us are concerned it’s a manifestation that all the barge of false information originating from the general media such as your publication is merely a futile exercise that isn’t doing any damage probably to the most capable government the country has ever had. However, don’t forget the country you’re talking about is a third world country where not even one-third of the population might have education. The awareness and the education level of a nation and its people makes a lot of difference. You aren’t talking about Derg that grappled with uncertainty and resorted to trial and error, or the TPLF, whose agenda was heavily focused on securing benefits for their own region at the expense of others. Now every region is getting its appropriate share and passing the scrutiny of everyone. Talk about IMF for example. So give them a chance and in fact they need one more term and that’s only when you can tell if they’re worth their salt.

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