(PresidentialInsider.com)- Ethiopia is reportedly working on its own social media platforms to take on Twitter and Facebook, and even an alternative to popular private messaging system WhatsApp, The plans are designed to give the people of Ethiopia an alternative, but do not involve blocking the global apps.
The news comes from Ethiopia’s state communications security agency, and follows a year of armed conflict between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the federal government. The TPLF currently controls the northern Tigray region in the country, and the supporters of both sides of the conflict have waged online wars using social media platforms.
According to the Network Security Agency (INSA), the government is planning to “replace” the three aforementioned social media platforms, as well as Zoom, the popular video conferencing app that became the dominant platform of its kind in the West during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shumete Gizaw, the director of INSA, said that a reason for the development of these new alternatives is because Facebook has repeatedly deleted posts and accounts that reveal the “true reality about Ethiopia.”
The Ethiopian government has repeatedly drawn the attention of global media outlets and international human rights organizations over the frequent and unexplained shutdowns of social media outlets like WhatsApp and Facebook, and no government official has commented on the purpose of those shutdowns yet.
Kezia Anim-Addo, a spokesperson for Facebook Africa, didn’t respond to reuqests for comment on the plans by the Ethiopian government. As it stands, around 6 million out of 115 million Ethiopian people currently use Facebook.
It’s important not to look at this as some kind of win for freedom in Ethiopia. In reality, the Ethiopian government is working against Facebook to make it harder for people to criticize the government. In the days before the last national election in Ethiopiam, the government unexpectedly shut down social media platforms after Facebook announced that it had removed a network of fake user accounts connected to INSA – the agency responsible for monitoring the internet.