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The Enigma of Ethiopian Government Social Media Verification

By LJDemissie
April 22, 2024

In the realm of social media, the Ethiopian government’s online presence presents a perplexing situation. While certain accounts are verified with official marks, others remain unmarked, leaving users uncertain about their authenticity and credibility.

To delve into this digital puzzle, let’s examine the case of government officials’ Twitter accounts. The Office of the Prime Minister – Ethiopia (@PMEthiopia) and Sahle-Work Zewde, President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (@SahleWorkZewde), proudly display a gray checkmark, indicating their official government status. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Taye Atske Selassie’s Twitter account (@TayeAtske) boasts a blue tick mark, signifying its verification. However, the Office of the President, Ethiopia Twitter account (@POEthiopia), lacks any tick mark, setting it apart from its counterparts.

Twitter’s verification system assigns blue tick marks to accounts that meet specific eligibility criteria, ensuring that users engage with genuine and authoritative sources. Gray tick marks, on the other hand, are reserved for government and multilateral organizations, confirming their official status.

However, beyond these symbols lies a more profound issue: the absence of clear rules, policies, and standards governing the social media conduct of Ethiopian government officials. While verification marks provide a semblance of credibility, they do not guarantee adherence to ethical guidelines or accountability.

In Prime Minister Abiy’s Ethiopia, the lack of a regulatory framework exposes government social media accounts to inconsistency, misinformation, and potential misuse. For example:

1. Users have reported being blocked from the PM Abiy’s account (@AbiyAhmedAli) for posting comments that both compliment and criticize PM Abiy.
2. Daniel Kibret (@danielkibret), an Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia on social affairs, wields a blue tick mark on his Twitter account. Daniel primarily uses his Twitter account to disparage dissenters or critics of the PM. Furthermore, some government officials block users if they dislike their posts, without clear guidelines on what kind of comments trigger blocking. Additionally, some officials only allow direct replies to those they follow or mention in their tweets, blocking other users from direct interaction. As a result, users are left with limited options, often resorting to retweeting only.
Without guidelines on appropriate behavior, content moderation, and accountability mechanisms, the online presence of PM Abiy’s government officials remain unchecked.
To navigate this digital landscape effectively, the Ethiopian government must establish comprehensive rules and standards for social media use. By outlining expectations for behavior, content moderation, and interaction with the public, officials can uphold transparency, integrity, and responsible engagement.
In summary, the presence or absence of verification marks is just one facet of the complex digital sphere inhabited by Ethiopian government accounts. Without a robust framework guiding their conduct, these accounts risk eroding public trust and credibility. It’s time to bring order to the chaos and ensure that government social media reflects the values of transparency, accountability, and authenticity.
The writer, LJDemissie, who received assistance from AI technology developed by OpenAI, can be reached at LJDemissie@yahoo.com or on Twitter at @LJDemissie.

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