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Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party’s Media Tactics: Insights from Facebook

A recent investigation by the BBC has revealed a disturbing truth in Ethiopia: those who express dissent or disagreement with the government are specifically singled out by the ruling Prosperity Party’s online supporters.

This particular group not only spreads misinformation on various social media platforms such as Facebook but also participates in what may be considered as ‘hate speech,’ greatly influencing public conversations.

The inquiry reveals the active participation of Addis Ababa city administration district leaders in organizing deceptive campaigns on Facebook. These campaigns are designed to artificially enhance the government’s reputation, orchestrated by the party’s district structures. The BBC’s coverage includes interviews with district leaders, party members, communication officers, and experts, offering a comprehensive insight into this troubling issue.

Operating across seven sub-cities of Addis Ababa, the party’s district structures coordinate social media campaigns through WhatsApp and Telegram groups. The BBC observed these groups, documenting instructions given to district leaders and media army members, as well as their execution. Furthermore, Facebook data was analyzed to support the findings.

Following the investigation, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, acknowledged receiving reports of “fake accounts” and “an influx of positive comments” on Ethiopian government posts. Meta stated that they have taken action against the fake accounts and pages involved, including those monitored by the BBC, which have now been removed.

However, the Prosperity Party attempted to counter the accusations by refuting the existence of a “media army” in its written response to the BBC. The comprehensive investigation, which lasted for three months, resulted in a detailed report compiled in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia. While Ethiopians commend the exceptional work of BBC correspondent Amanuel Yelekal (አማኑኤል ይልቃል), concerned individuals from Ethiopia emphasize the necessity of publishing an English version of the report. This would enable a wider audience and influential organizations to access the information.

 

 

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