Ethiopia working to build country’s social media platforms

Ethiopia’s intelligence and cybersecurity agency has revealed that the country is creating its own social media platforms to compete with US-owned sites like Facebook and Twitter. 

Shumete Gizaw, director general of the Information Network Security Agency (INSA), stated Ethiopia aims to be “self-sufficient” in terms of communications.

“Honestly, the challenge we’re facing currently is social media platforms have become tools for political motives,” Shumete said.

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The intentions come as Ethiopian army and their allies are immersed in a conflict in the north of the country against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which has killed thousands and forced hundreds of thousands into famine-like conditions. 

As the dispute deepens, the government and its TPLF adversaries have engaged in a verbal battle, accusing each other of spreading lies and misinformation.

“Potentially influential Ethiopian and truth-laden messages distributed on Twitter and Facebook are deleted quickly by Facebook and Twitter,” Shumete charged.

“What’s beneficial for us is at the very least developing our own nationwide systems which can replace Facebook and Twitter and we’re working on it.”

Shumete was unavailable for comment on the plans.

In June, Facebook removed dozens of what it said were fake Ethiopian accounts linked to the INSA ahead of a general election that saw Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s party win by a landslide.

INSA was established by Abiy, who started out a 20-year career in the military as a radio operator, in 2008.

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