In Ethiopia, disinformation spreads through Facebook live as political tensions rise

9 August 2019

Digital Content

On July 18, two Ethiopian protest groups clashed in front of the Ethiopian embassy in Washington, DC, in the United States, as Ethiopia’s tense national politics spread to its diasporas.

Protesters demonstrated their opposition to the current government, waving flags missing the characteristic yellow pentagram, a symbol of Ethiopia’s collective national identity.  

Pro-government supporters, mostly of Oromo ethnicity, marched to confront the anti-government protesters. They wore red, yellow and green, Ethiopia’s national colors, and carried Oromo Liberation Front flags.

Demonstrators got close enough to hurl insults at each other.

But this real-life confrontation pales in comparison to the intense, bitter political agitation taking place in every corner of Ethiopian social media, and especially on Facebook. Ethiopians use Facebook more than any other social media platform and many citizens consider Facebook to be the “internet.”

Since last year, Ethiopia has undergone a much-lauded transition from dictatorship to democracy. Many Ethiopians embraced the transition spearheaded by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. But the euphoria accompanying Ethiopia’s embrace of civil liberties has deflated as political rifts resurfaced between non-ruling elites of Ethiopia's two main ethnic groups: the Amharas and the Oromos. Read the full article on Global Voices here.