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The Role of Social Media in Ethiopia's Recent Political Transition

Info: 10358 words (41 pages) Essay
Published: 12th Oct 2021 in Politics

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Abstract

This research aims to explore to what extent the popular social media positively and negatively affected Ethiopia's recent political transition. Further, the research focuses on how the social media played a role in leading to the overthrow of the state capture by the authoritarian and how they are playing role in the process since then. Qualitative research and analysis is applied to depict the impact of social media on Ethiopia's recent political transition. The findings of this research has revealed that a large number of the literature as stated positive feedback about the role of social media on Ethiopia‟s political transmission such as mobilizing people to stand against the overthrown government, support the reformist actions, expose illegal actions, criticizing all the dangerous movements and creating awareness among the community easily and promptly. Some of the literatures stated the negative impacts of social media networks such as spreading/disseminating fake news from fake accounts, rumors, individual opinions/feelings and ethnic-based information that leads the community to unrest, challenge the current political transition in Ethiopia.

Key words: Social Media, Political Transition, social media for Politics, Role of Social Media, Ethiopian politics, Ethiopia

1. Introduction

In the 21st century, social media are said to have an impact on the public discourse and communication in the society (Lisa Virgiano, 2011, Kaplan, AM &Haenlein, M ,2010). In particular, social media are increasingly used (Mary, 2019).

According to the Oxford dictionary (2012), the term "Social Media" refers to websites and applications used for social networking. Furthermore, Social media is defined as forms of electronic communication such as websites through which people create online communication to share information, ideas, personal messages, etc, (whatis.com, 2019Downes, 2005 and Siemens, 2006). Social media contains several channels (Urista, Dong, & Day, 2009) like audios/videos callings, blogging, communicating, texting, sharing contents all over the world and so many characteristics (Boyd & Danish, 2007 andKeith, 2016). More recently, popular social Media, such asFacebook, Twitter and YouTube (Emanuel, 2016, Maisam, 2019) are believed to have the potential for increasing political participation (Surjit&Manpreet,2013, Ahmad, 2011). While Twitter is an ideal platform for users to spread not only information in general but also political opinions publicly through their networks, political institutions (e.g., politicians, political parties, political foundations, etc.) have also begun to use Facebook pages (Brenner, Rainie, Smith, & Duggan, 2013) or groups for the purpose of entering into direct dialogs with citizens and encouraging more political discussions (Stieglitz, 2012 Keith, 2016 and Sajithra and Rajindra, 2013). These social media uses are increasing rapidly by the activists, youth and politicians. Social networking is sometimes used by the political parties and their leaders to advertise and spread their views and opinions (John, 2017, Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010 & Tayeebwa, 2015). On the other hand, the public uses the same media to share their views and use it against undemocratic rule and anarchy (John, 2017).

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One of the earliest impacts of social media on politics was felt in Philippine. According to Raul (2012), at the turn of the century, when only through the use of text messaging a president was ousted. On January 17, 2001, during the prosecution trial of Philippine President Joseph Estrada, loyalists in the Philippine Congress voted to set aside proof against him. Within two hours, after the congress decision was announced, thousands of Filipinos, gathered on crossroads in Manila with the help of forwarded text messages to express their anger to their corrupt president. And in the next few days, over a million people gathered in downtown Manila to continue their protest (Raul, 2012). The country's legislators were startled by immense and speedy reaction from public and they reversed their decision and allowed the evidences to be presented for the court. Estrada's fate was sealed and he had to quit. In this way, social media had helped to force out the national leader (Shirky, 2011).

According to Onyedikachiet.al (2017) the use of social media in politics has continued to grow in recent times. In America, Barack Obama broke the world record in the history of social media use for political purpose during the 2008 and 2012 US presidential elections (Roman and Jákup 2014).Many nations and politicians across the globe have also continued to embrace the platform to mobilize their citizens and candidates towards active participation in the political process. Nigeria also had the first real test of social media use for political participation during the 2011 General Elections (Onyedikachi, Celestine, Chibuzo & Adaeze, 2017).

Social Media in the Arab world has also been increasingly used to inform, mobilize, and increase awareness among people with regards to issues, such as human rights, corruption and democracy. According to the Sedra‟s report to World Bank (2013), pro-democracy movements and social media groups, such as Kefaya (enough), "We are all Khaled Said", Shayfeencom (We're Watching You) and other Movement in Egypt have made extensive use of blogs and social Media(Sedra, 2013).

Furthermore, new media (Social media) helped activists to mobilize hundreds of people and sparked widespread protests in the streets, which led to the outbreak of a revolution at different countries. The protest carried out at Habib Bourguiba Avenue in Tunis, Tahrir Square in Cairo, Pearl Square in Manama, and the University Quarter in Sanaa have ultimately brought the fall of entrenched dictators, such as Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen, and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya (Mohamed and Armstrong, 2016). The above events in the world politics clearly demonstrate the role social media is playing in politics. These events are not limited to any one part of the continents, but spread over different parts of the world. It is therefore the aim of this study to investigate the impact of these social media on the current/April, 2018 Ethiopia‟s political transition.

2. Ethiopia's Political Transition and the Role of Social Media

2.1. Ethiopia's Political Transition

As stated by Abreham and Tibebe (2019), before Facebook become popular in Ethiopia, people preferred to listen radios and watch TV, broadcasted from outside the country, such as VOA (Voice of America) and Duetchevelle (broadcasted in Amharic from Germany) radio stations. But nowadays, anyone can use his/her mobile or tablet to get any news from the social media. Even those traditional Media are also available in social Media by having Facebook pages. Anyone can get those local traditional media news as well as political activists and Diaspora based Media which are always eager and interested to transmit news by protesting against the current Ethiopian government. Consequently, social media in Ethiopia have become a preferred media outlet which can present political news from the government supporters, activist, journalists as well as from opposition group of the government.

Since 1991, Ethiopia has been ruled by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) functioned as a de facto one-party state. Until 2012, the country was led by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, a cunning hardliner who consolidated power around one ethnic group, the Tigrians, and cemented Ethiopia's political order. After his sudden death six years ago, he was replaced by Hailemariam Desalegn, who largely continued the Continued practicing like Meles (Meles‟s Legacy) and leaving the government which led the country in a crisis of legitimacy (Aljazeera, 2018, Fortune, 2018).

Ethiopia's diverse ethnic groups were often subjugated and politically marginalized. This was primarily felt among the two largest groups, the Oromos (34%) and the Amharas (27%). Crafty legislation, like the 2009's anti-terrorism law, silenced criticism of the political order. Prisons became crammed with bloggers, activists, opposition politicians and journalists who reported governmental abuses. Tsedale Lemma, the editor-in-chief of Addis Standard interviewed by Aljazeera stated, "Critical media was being decimated one way or another, and journalists were leaving the country, we became at some point, the second-largest country producing journalist asylum seekers".

According to Mulualem (2019), in Ethiopia, the December 2015 Oromo protest by students and farmers on the new master plan of Addis Ababa and around Oromo regions, made headlines in the world news. Ethiopian government blames opposition parties for facilitating and organizing the protest via Facebook.

Consequently, the state had been rocked by opposition for about three consecutive years.

Especially, the Oromo and Amhara youths called "Qerro" and "Fano" respectively protested against the violation of human rights and over anarchism, which led to the declaration of two emergency decrees. Lives were lost and property damaged. The intractability of political stalemates led to the resignation of the outgoing Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn.

Additionally, during those periods, in Ethiopia, the right to information and the role of media was restricted. Private media were blocked. Journalists, bloggers and activists were arrested by the autocrats. The printed media, TV and radio and other media were not free and controlled by the authoritarian government. The private media were silent, blocked or highly restricted to report the problems. Hence, the people of Ethiopia did not trust the reports made by these media, and prefer to gather up-to-date and relevant information from social media posted by political activists, bloggers and journalists. During this time, social media, like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube played a vital role for reporting the real problem or addressing the right information for the right users (society) at the right time. Thus, activists, journalists and bloggers who live abroad, used social media as an indispensable tool to share information about the day to day government practices, political activities, anarchism, human right violations, corruptions, and set strategies to mobilize the society for freedom and democratic reformation. All these activities led to the current newborn political situations and hopes in the country at large.

As mentioned above, Ethiopia's newborn political transition was no coincidence; it was the culmination of hard-fought political activism, youth protest, and pressure of internal reformist group that forced the authoritarian regime to be improved. Finally, the anticipation ended, and Abiy Ahmed was elected by EPRDF as a Prime Minister of Ethiopia on Monday, April 2, 2018 (Ethiopian Herald, 2018). Abiy became the third chairman of the ruling collation that has been at the helm of politics for the past three decades and the first Prime Minister from the Oromo Peoples‟ Democratic Organization (OPDO) now Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) (Fortune, 2018).

When Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed delivered his inauguration speech on April 2, 2018, the bold rhetoric suggested a political revolution for Ethiopia in particular and the East African nations in general. Abiy's speech promised a new era for ethnic unity, democracy and freedom of speech/media. It was reported as a radical departure for a country embroiled in longstanding ethnic and political divisions (Aljazeera, 2018).

2.2. Social Media on Ethiopia's Political Transition

More than twenty million Ethiopians use Facebook in Amharic, English, Oromiffa and other languages out of the total of hundred million people, and statistics shows social media users for political participation and news, especially Facebook and YouTube users increased by 14.1% after the recent revolution, which is 94.6% of the total internet and smart phone users. Data on Ethiopia shows that annual growth for Internet users is at 37% and the number of active social media users is growing by 20%. Findings show (Staff, 2018) that majority of Ethiopians access the Internet from a mobile device. Top three most searched teams on Google are „Facebook‟, „News‟ and „Ethiopian‟. Most of the user‟s age groups range from 16-40 years old, i.e. the youth and adult group that cover the majority of the total population in the country (Africa Internet Usage, 2019).

It was the first time in Ethiopian history that events of the transition were mainly covered and reported by ordinary citizens via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blogs rather that the mainstream media. As per the Aljazeera news/information collected from different journalist, activist and politicians, social media played a significant role for Ethiopia‟s political transition.

Jawar Mohammed, the founder of the Oromia Media Network and Diaspora based in Minnesota, USA, played major role in the Oromo protests and exemplified how social media could bring a change. He took advantage of social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook, to bypass strict government censorship. According to his statement to Aljazeera (2018),"You cannot imagine this revolution, this change without social media," Through these mediums, he helped to orchestrate demonstrations and broadcasted undeniable proof of the government's abuses to millions of followers. Jawar further described how he and his followers used the social media as follows "People from all corners of the world will snap a picture, record a video and send it to us through WhatsApp or through Facebook. We take that, we verify it, we edit it and we air it back to them."

With regard to the role played by social media, Mukerrem Miftah (Ph.D.)[1] stated that:

Social media facilitated effective and instant information sharing possible in Ethiopia‟s politics. This means that it allows the young/youth age-group to be actively involved in politics. Even if youth participation was relatively normal in Ethiopian political history since the 1960s, the intensity, size, and level of youth political participation, such as activism, blogging, audio/video communications, message exchanges through viber, WhatsApp, IMO, Facebook, Paltalk, telegram, Skype tremendously increased very icing recently. This is a new political experience in Ethiopia.

Prominent opposition political members such as Andargachew Tsige, Andualem Arage, Merara Gudina as well as journalists and activists such as Eskindir Nega, Temesgen Dessalegn were released from prison; critical websites and blogs were unblocked. In an interview with Aljazeera, regarding the recent Ethiopia‟s political transition and the role of social media, Eskindir Nega,an Ethiopian journalist Who was released recently after six years of imprisonment stated "If Abiy Ahmed does not deliver the democracy he promised, then we'll be back to social media,". He asserted his position by saying "I'm prepared to go back to prison again. So, whether there's democracy or no democracy, it's back to work (social media). There's no choice." Finally, Aljazeera (2018) concluded that the use of social media in Ethiopia has contributed essentially to success of the protest.

3. Positive Roles of Social Media on Ethiopia's Political Transition

According to the findings of this research, listed below are the positive roles of social media on Ethiopia‟s current political transition.

3.1. Mobilizing People

Social media sites allow the people of Ethiopia to mobilize challenges and stand against the autocracy of the government. During the protest to the ruling government, cell phones and social Media were widely used to communicate straightaway with a large numbers of people, form ad hoc teams at a very large scale and exchange crucial information in a timely manner. Especially, activists living abroad were the one who used social Media to set strategies and mobilize the youth to collaborate and say NO for the government illegal actions. Street demonstrations were organized and led by activists in different cities like Ambo, Gondar, Bahirdar, Woliso, Debremakos and other cities at the same time, Facebook profile pictures were changed to show the protest.

For instance, in 2017/8 a powerful Facebook group named "#OroMara" was created. The name was coined by blending the ethnonyms "Oromo" and "Amhara" who were the two main ethnic groups in terms of population size. The group was created mainly to bring together the alliance of the above mentioned regional states and stand together for freedom and strengthen the movements of the „Qerro‟ youth of Oromia and „Fano‟ youth of Amhara regions.

Once the #OroMara alliance was created, a number of Facebook and Twitter pages like #OroMaraኦሮማራ, #ኦሮማራ-OroMara, #Oromo Protest #Amhara Protest with a significant number of followers was created. Once the page created, political activists and youths from both regional states discussed and exchanged information about the strategies to throw out the authoritarian group who captured the government power. Therefore, popular social media, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter created a platform for rapid interaction which helped various groups to communicate easily and organize demonstrations how, where and when to oppose government forces.

3.2. Support the Reformist Actions

As it stated above, the political transition in Ethiopia became true not only by the activist, bloggers and youth protests, but also by the sum of internal reformist straggle struggle called "Team Lemma". The "Team Lemma" was composed of the internal reformists organized secretly to over throw the authoritarian ruling group and bring democracy to the people of Ethiopia. The communities, who need political transformation, fully supported the reform activities and stand along with reformists. For instance, on June 23, 2018, when supporters of the reformist group called a demonstration at Meskel square in Addis Ababa, a large number of people, especially the youths, from all corners of the country were informed through social media and gathered to show their strong support for the political transformation. Furthermore, youths at different towns, cities and villages used Facebook as a platform to organized demonstrations to show their support to the political transition. Slogans, such as "we support you", "we are united", "You are our hero", "we are with you", "Ethiopia is an addiction", "One love, one Ethiopia" and the pictures of the reformations were prepared by the organizers and shared through social Media. Also, demonstrators wearing T-shirts with the photos of the reformists printed on it and holding banners gathered around the streets to confirm their support. The demonstration was also to appeal to all Ethiopians living worldwide to break the silence and speak out against the social injustice and brutality done by the ousted political.

Furthermore, like that of the speech by Martin Luther King "I have a dream" and Barack Obama‟s "Yes We Can", leader of the Ethiopia‟s current political reformist group Abiy Ahmed come with a new slogan or concept of „Medemer/ መደመር‟‟ meaning unity, inclusion, unification to bring pragmatic and inclusive change in Ethiopia (Yilma, 2018, Mulualem, 2019).

This slogan was widely and quickly spread over the different social media and almost every individual who use social media networks owned the idea of „Medemer‟, change the profile picture with the medemer slogan in different formats such as a banner or T-shirt with a slogan „Tedemiryalehu‟ meaning „#Iamunited‟. Below is one of the banners/picture which was widely spread over the social media. According to a small number (10) selected Facebook users assessment made, the picture bellow was shared, commented and liked over 1.8 million, 2.5 million and 3.1 million times respectively. There were a number of different groups created to support the reformist groups, such as #የዶ/አብይአህመድደጋፊዎች/ D/r Abiy Ahimed supporter, which was created on April 3, 2018 and have over 284,140 followers.

3.3. Exposing and Criticizing Illegal Actions

During the recent political transition period in Ethiopia, social media users were curious for the change to progress. According to the assessment made by this study, the transformation was not smooth and easy at all. Some groups and individuals were not happy with the change, and they tried to terrorize and create obstacles so many times. The damages done by the reactionaries include killing groups/individuals, pushing different groups for conflict, illegal gun and money smuggling etc. Following the political transition, ethnic violence and mob attacks across the country were resulted in the death of innocent citizens.

For instance in the Somali region on July, 2018, churches were burnt, priests, deacons and congregates were killed, and many displaced and property damaged by reactionaries. During that time, social media was widely used by almost all Ethiopians who use social media to condemn such evil actions and support those who were in danger.

On the other hand, in Shahemene, southern Oromia region, an innocent man was killed by mob attack. The case was like this, according to a call by a reformist Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, a number of exiled political groups and activists returned home. Jawar Mohammed, an Oromo activist who was based in the United States also came to Ethiopia. On August, 2018, in Shashemene, the rally was held to welcome Jawar Mohammed. The mob attacked the young man, accusing him of carrying a bomb on his person. He was hanged upside down and beaten to death. The regional police reported there were no bombs found on him. Following this action the society condemn the killing of the innocent man through social media. According to my review of selected Facebook pages, the upside down hanged picture was shared over and commented on popular social media more than 7.2 million times. Jawar Mohammed on his official Twitter and Facebook pages that has more than 112,000 and 1,671,625 followers respectively, Twitted and shared on August 12, 2018 to denounce the mob justice as:

"The mob attack that has happened in #Shashemene was cruel, disgusting and damaging to the image of this beautiful city that has been hot bed of resistance that brought this changes we enjoy today."

Other social media users have also commented on as:

"It is still heartbreaking to see images or hear about what happened in #Shashemene... However, there seem to be reflections being made by many that their action does not represent our society. I beg to differ".

Another social media user also said

"Very sad to see this happening in Ethiopia today. No matter the reason, this shameful and illegal act should be stopped."

The other one said

"It is totally inhuman act…barbaric….government must arrest the youths/attackers".

Therefore, during the time of the political transition, together with the national security force, the society used social media played a vital role to expose, denounce/condemn such acts.

3.4. Creating Awareness among the Community

Literature (Karolak, 2018, Chimee, 2016) reveals that citizens prefer social media rather than the local, traditional or main stream Media for political news and information. No need of visiting websites, buy newspaper, listen to radios and watch televisions programs to follow up new political developments. Social media provides news faster and less-costly than other mediums. Among the popular social media, Facebook is the most preferred social media for news on Ethiopian politics and other related issues (Abreham and Tibebe, 2019).

For instance, social media widely used to support different group of societies displaced due to ethnic or political violence. Such as the GLOBAL ALLIANCE led by activist Tamagn Beyene was raising funds for the victims of ethnic-violence in the town of Burayu. In supporting his fundraising the call for support was shared about 289,000 times over social media and around $483,973 was raised in three days.

Hence, in Ethiopia‟s current political transition, social Media, especially Facebook has played a vital role in terms of serving as means of a communication platform between the community, politicians, activists, government reformist and supporters.

4. Negative Impacts of Social Media on Ethiopia's Political Transition

The information posted on social Media, such as spreading/ disseminating fake news/incorrect information/rumors from fake accounts, individual opinions/feelings, ethnic-based information, false allegations, hate speeches, misrepresentations, inciting ethnic violence have negative impacts on the political transition of the country. As stated by Mukerrem Miftah on our email conversations:

Since no one controls the content of information shared in these platforms, it has a dangerous natural propensity to unleash chaos and instability, this has already caused significant problems in many times and places in Ethiopia, challenge the current political transition in Ethiopia.

4.1. Fake News (Rumors)

Among the top most negative effects of social Media in Ethiopian politics is spreading/ disseminating fake news (rumors) from fake accounts. Political issues are presently impacted by each story, regardless of being genuine or not, that gets spread over the internet. It is getting increasingly harder to isolate genuine news from fake the ones on the web. Social media makes this refinement particularly confusing. The consistent stream of images, connections, and gossips about political leaders is a blend of truths and untruths. There are currently a significant number of fake news websites and pages created by unknown individuals that frequently post rumors and fake news. For Instance, among the well- known Oromo activists, Jawar Mohammed is the one, and there are more than 10 Facebook accounts created by his identity and profile picture. Furthermore, #ZemedkunBekele, #MikyAmhara, #MulukenTesfaw, #Daniel Berhane and others are also activists who have an official Facebook account and significant number of followers. But, different individuals create another account using the above mentioned activists, bloggers and politicians appellations and spread fake, fabricated news supported by images edited Photoshop that lead different groups to conflict and unrest. Even by using the name and title of the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, I found more than 20 Facebook accounts, such as #PMabiyahmed, #DrAbiy Ahmed PM, #Pm Abiy Ahmed, #Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali PM, Ethiopian PM Dr.Abiy Ahmedetc. with a significant number of followers. As stated by the office of the Prime Minster, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has no Twitter account. But as shown the image below, there are a number of twitter accounts created by his appellations.

Using all the fake accounts created by different unethical individuals fake news and photoshoped images are posted and spread on social media that leads innocent Ethiopians to conflict and unrest. For example, as shown in the picture below, the original picture was from Central Africa some years back, but irresponsible individuals tried to edit the picture with a flag that the picture shows what is happening somewhere in Ethiopia and spread over the social medias.

4.2. Group/Ethnic Interest

In Ethiopia, a radical ethno-nationalist politics is certainly producing an excessively irrational youth groups in different parts of the country. In an interview with Addis Standard, Mukerrem Miftah (2018), stated that, activists can be divided into two: on the one hand stand those who have institutional affiliations, refined goals, and a certain degree of stability (a sense of directionality), and on the other hand stand those who do not necessarily have any institutional affiliations, and possess a blurred sense of goal (and direction). Mukerrem further described the two groups of activists as, the former group of activists, broadcast and print media serves as an important vent for reaching out and initiate change efforts. Here activists are personally and institutionally identifiable. This entails a certain degree of refined role and status, for any status confers responsibility. In other words, activism under this modality assumes responsible activism, making the act of activism nuanced and strategic (Mukerrem Miftah, 2018). However, despite some fluctuations among the first group of activists, the second group of activists and the kind of activism within which they function is apparently causing more chaos, unpredictability, crisis, and identity-based frictions in Ethiopia. It should be noted, however, that some of the individual activists have been genuinely engaged in harnessing peace and stability for the country. Some are well educated with significant influences than others. Yet, devoid of any institutional affiliations, refined and specific goals and directions, individual activists inspired by their ethnicity, religion, or group mentality, have been the major source of discontent in Ethiopia.

Finally, Mukerrem concluded the statement as, "Social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, have been the major means of their outreach. Being largely uncontrolled, it allowed for the expression of views, relevant or destructive, affecting the way "normal" citizens think, act, and behave."(Mukerrem Miftah, 2018).

Currently, there are different types/ category of social media activists who have large number of followers in Ethiopia. Among the different categories, Unity centered activist, Ethno- nationalism activist and religion based activist can be mentioned. For instance, we may take the Oromo-centered activism, especially Jawar Mohammed, and the unity-centered activist Tamagn Beyene, representing a different strand of political activism in Ethiopia. Despite all their shortcomings, one can relatively predict the overarching discourse underpinning their activism (Mukerrem, 2018). The Ethno-nationalism activists with a large number of followers post and shared different information on social media using their local language about the interests of that specific ethnic groups. Because of the different attitudes and interests of the different category of social media activists and the kind of activism within which they function is apparently causing more chaos, unpredictability, crisis, and identity-based frictions in Ethiopia. For instance, in Oromia and Benishangul regions, ethnic-based attacks and displacement were become a recurrent problem. In Guji Zone of Oromia region, nearly a million ethnic Gedeos were displaced, and many seem to think that it is a sort of ethnic cleansing effort. In Amhara region, the conflicts between Amhara and Qimant community in Gonder region have resulted in dozens of deaths and displacement of well over 40,000 people (Borkena, 2019).

The sentiments for ethnic conflict are is still there. Activists with a conviction of unstated radical ethno-nationalism with huge followers on social media could cause a lot of damage to the country. In consequence, ethnic-tension in the country is taking root so much so that now the government is considering it as a national security concern (Borkena.com, 2019).

5. Conclusion and Recommendations

The primary objective of the research undertaken is to investigate and evaluating both the positive and negative aspects of social media for Ethiopia‟s political transition. The findings of this study showed that a positive development of social media emergence has been that the society, specially the youth is talking about the political issues. Before the emergence of social media the political discussions were restricted only to those who read newspapers, watched news channels or participated in discussions. But recently, Social Media helped activists to mobilize hundreds of people and spark widespread protests in the streets, which led to the outbreak of a revolution or transformation at different countries including Ethiopia. The outcome of this report also shows negative impacts of social Media, for instance false allegations, incorrect information, hate speeches, misrepresentations, inciting ethnic violence, and many others which specifically characterize specific group.

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Since no one controls the content of information shared in social media platforms, it has a dangerous natural propensity to unleash chaos and instability, this has already caused significant problems in many times and places in Ethiopia, especially since Abiy came to power. The worst feature is that since many of the activists and followers use fake usernames and appellations, it makes it harder for the relevant authorities to take any corrective measures. Youths, activists, journalists and others are expected to use the social media in a responsible manner.

Above all, social media users should not give attention for the unknown or fake accounts who may share rumors or fake news that leads to conflict and displacement. The government, on the other hand has to be transparent and deliver genuine information for the society at the right time, and take corrective measures upon the fake accounts or individuals who shared fake news. Finally, even though it is open for subjective judgment, the recent hate speech declaration/policy is one way of going about it. However, the government can do many things beyond and above promulgating laws.

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[1] Assistant Professor, Institute for Eastern and Africa Studies (DOAF) Social Sciences University of Ankara, ULUS/Ankara, Turkey via email communication stated as follows:

 

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