Ethiopia accuses Facebook of failing to halt violence

Image copyright AFP Image caption Blogger Atilay Teshome pleaded guilty in 2014 to inciting violence in the Oromia region, where Ademo is from Ethiopia has accused Facebook of failing to curb violence being circulated…

Ethiopia accuses Facebook of failing to halt violence

Image copyright AFP Image caption Blogger Atilay Teshome pleaded guilty in 2014 to inciting violence in the Oromia region, where Ademo is from

Ethiopia has accused Facebook of failing to curb violence being circulated on the social network.

A leaked document showed the company made attempts to stop the spread of the hate speech, but had to reach out to the people posting the content.

Facebook did nothing, said Ebru Zenganeh, who lives in the city of Kayts.

She said it had a role to play in stopping hate speech but “can’t,” adding “people are just using it for evil”.

Ethiopia last month declared a three-month state of emergency, which came into force on Thursday, following the country’s deadliest recorded violence, during which at least 350 people were killed in Harar.

According to Ethiopian officials, violence spread across several city districts in the Oromia region last month.

They say that Facebook itself was used by the hate-filled groups and individuals to spread hate messages and to incite violence.

In July 2016, at least 54 people died during violence in Ethiopia’s western Amhara region. At the time, Facebook said it was working on ensuring “safety of the public on our platform and is investigating”.

But it emerged earlier this year that a jailed blogger, Atilay Teshome, had argued during a court hearing that Facebook encouraged extremist and xenophobic thought and comments.

In a television interview last month, he said that he himself had used the site to call for violence against ethnic minorities.

Human rights groups say thousands of Ethiopian protesters have been killed during anti-government demonstrations in Oromia and other parts of the country since 2015.

Last year, a US-based human rights group published the names and locations of more than 300 activists, journalists and civil society workers who had been killed.

Such is the use of Facebook in the Horn of Africa that the US government in May released a report detailing the “treachery” and “evil” tactics it sees used by Somalis in a campaign against the government.

It said Somalis “fund terrorism and spread false messages through social media.”

The US Congress held an inquiry into what the findings suggested.

Ethiopia: New state of emergency in force

‘Help put down the flames’

Simi Nsur, from the Ethiopian American Network for Human Rights, said the Government had been “raising the temperature” in the country.

“The good news is that Facebook and Twitter didn’t get down and tackle the problem, and that’s a huge reflection of where we are at in this country and globally,” she told CNN.

She urged Facebook and Twitter to work with authorities.

“Facebook can help put down the flames, and it can help disseminate information where people have no access to the media,” she said.

“They can help disseminate the messages to the traditional media and to the churches, to individuals and families who can help us to know what is happening to us, let us know what’s behind it and where it’s coming from, so we can have a counter-narrative.”

Some of the accused have denied their guilt.

Mirembe Akoni, who was jailed for posting what officials said was a video threatening “massacre” at a military installation, told CNN he would be appealing against his conviction.

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