Social Media Law Enforcement Crucial for Ethiopia: Opinions

Addis Ababa October 24/2018 Ethiopia needs social media law enforcement to manage fake news induced conflicts across the country, according to opinions from various experts.

Last week, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Ethiopia is drafting a proclamation on ways for effective use of social media management.

Premier Abiy stated that some social media users through creating fake accounts have been misusing social media to disseminate hate speech and other fabricated information while they could effectively utilized it for the positive and constructive activities.

Following the Premier’s announcement, ENA has gathered opinions on the new draft proclamation from some residents of Addis Ababa, who said that enforcing the law is crucial for averting conflicts triggered by social media.

Deresse Eshetu, who is a tour expert in the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, said compared to mainstream media, “social media in its nature disseminates accurate as well as erroneous information swiftly.”

“I think social media law is essential and crucial in Ethiopia to make users responsible,” Eshetu said.

He noted that some skeptic social media users pose a real risk on the socio-economic and political life of the public by spreading hate speech and disinformation.

According to Internet World Status, last year Ethiopia had more than 16 million internet users most of whom have subscribed to social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.

He indicated that with the prevalence of social media and digital forums, comments, photos, posts, and content shared by individuals are affecting the peaceful coexistence between the peoples in Ethiopia.

Most of the time people get unverified information from facebook and other social media outlets which are creating confusions, initiating and aggravating conflicts across the nation, Deresse said.

A prospective social media law could help to manage the risks of spreading unverified social media information and enhance nation building, he added.

Asfaw Mekonen, a second year Folklore and Literature masters student in AAU commented that “social media is very useful if it is used properly, but at the same time if not managed legally, could create a greater havoc.”

Social media is now becoming influential and users must be responsible for negative risks they incur and the government should take measure on users that initiate hatred, violence, conflict and defamation, Asfaw mentioned.

Mulatu Betsegaw, a chemical Engineer, said on his part said that the use of social media requires a legal framework to prevent insecurities and mismanagement of any information.

“Social media should be managed for positive dissemination of information and I support issuing of the social media law,” he added.

Mulatu said a lot must be done on ethics on students so that they can feel responsibility for the country and awareness building would be crucial for informing the public on the new law.

“Drafting social media proclamation is timely and significant to enhance effective use of the social media,” Political Science and Philosophy Academician, Gidey Degefa said.

He stated that “It is very difficult to monitor all social media, but I support the social media proclamation. It needs a legal framework.”