Facebook says it has removed a post by Ethiopia’s prime minister urging citizens to rise up and “bury” rival Tigre forces, which are now hitting the capital as the country reaches the one-year mark of the war. make threats.
Emily Cain, a spokeswoman for Facebook’s parent company Meta, told The Associated Press that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s post on Sunday violated the platform’s policies against inciting and supporting violence. He said it was landed on Tuesday morning.
“We all have an obligation to die for Ethiopia,” Abi said in a now-deleted post that called on citizens to mobilize “by holding any weapon or ability.”
Abi is still posting regularly on the platform, where he has 3.5 million followers. The United States and others have warned Ethiopia about “inhuman rhetoric” after the prime minister described Tigre forces as “cancer” and “weed” in July.
Facebook has previously removed posts from world leaders, albeit in rare circumstances. Earlier this year, the company deleted a video of US President Donald Trump making false claims about election fraud following a deadly clash at the US Capitol. Facebook said at the time that the video contributed to the “risk of ongoing violence”. Just last week, the tech platform broadcast live from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro as he made false claims about COVID-19 vaccines.
Spokesperson Cain did not say how Facebook was made aware of the Ethiopian post, which was created by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister as Tigre forces took control of major cities over the weekend, leaving them the capital. It was placed in a position to be taken down a major highway. , Addis Ababa.
Concerned, Abiy’s government this week declared a national emergency, with sweeping powers of detention and military conscription. The prime minister reiterated his call to “bury” Tigre forces in public comments on Wednesday as he and other officials marked a year of war.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s highly polarized social media this week saw several high-profile posts targeting ethnic tigers and even suggesting keeping them in concentration camps.
Before Abiy took office thousands of people were killed in the war between Ethiopian and allied forces and the Tigre, who had long dominated the national government. The UN human rights chief said on Wednesday that he had received reports of thousands of ethnic tigers being taken into custody in recent months.
Former Facebook product manager-turned-whistleblower Frances Haugen cited Ethiopia last month as an example of the platform’s “disastrous impact” on society. “My fear is that without action, the divisive and extremist behavior that we see today is only the beginning,” she told the Senate Consumer Protection Subcommittee. “What we saw in Myanmar and what we are seeing in Ethiopia are the opening chapters of such a horrifying story, no one wants to read the ending.”
Meta spokesman Cain declined to say how many employees they have in Ethiopia or those dedicated to detecting violent speech in Ethiopia, but said the company is looking to review positions in Somali, Amharic, Oromo and Tigrinya. has capacity. She also said that it has a team consisting of people from Ethiopia or who have spent time in the country.
But Berhan Taye, a digital rights researcher based in neighboring Kenya who tracks social media on Ethiopia and regularly forwards suspicious posts on the Facebook platform, told the AP last week that the platform was a Tigrinya language, the language of the Tigrans. I was not moderating. As recently as April.
Overall in Ethiopia, “if you report (post) on the forum, it is very likely to get no response,” she said. “The amount we raise, and the number of answers we get, tells you that their internal system is really limited.”