KEMMCOM Media and Communications

The National Report on Social Media Hate Speech and False Information

Ethiopian Media Authority (EMA) released a national report that aims to address the escalating issue of hate speech and misinformation on five social media platforms: Facebook, Telegram, TikTok, X and YouTube. The report gathers data from complaints made on EMA’s hotlines; random scrolling in the pages of users; and surveys from users residing in Amhara, South, Somali, Oromia, and Harari regions of Ethiopia to reflect public sentiment.

The report delineates specific findings for each social media platform in disseminating hate speech and disinformation as follows:

  • Facebook: The report emphasises Facebook’s role in spreading written discriminatory hate speech, compromising fundamental human values, primarily sourced from individuals and activists, focusing on ethnicity and political attitudes, with an intent to incite violence.
  • Telegram: Telegram employs images and text to propagate hate speech in a manner that egregiously violates human rights and principles of humanity, particularly targeting ethnicity. The primary perpetrators of hate speech on this platform are activists and social content creators.
  • TikTok: On this social media platform, videos serve as the primary means of information dissemination, with individuals and activists playing significant roles in spreading hate speech that blatantly violates human rights and undermines the principles of humanity, particularly about ethnicity.
  • X (former Twitter): Activists and individuals wield considerable influence in disseminating hate speech primarily through written content, particularly targeting ethnicity.
  • YouTube: Extremist activists and social media content creators propagate hate speech through videos, leveraging personal political biases as the basis for their messages. This form of hate speech predominantly targets politicians and government authorities.
  • Regarding disinformation, the report highlights that the majority of disinformation spread on these social media platforms is either factually incorrect or presented with a false context.

The report alleges that 70% of reported content in all social media platforms is not taken down in 24 hours as outlined in the Hate Speech and Disinformation Prevention and Suppression Proclamation, according to respondents the report sampled.

The report calls for social media companies to adhere to their responsibilities outlined in the Hate Speech and Disinformation Prevention and Suppression Proclamation. These expectations are implementing digital literacy and awareness about social media usage; hiring local content moderators who understand the language and culture of Ethiopian social media users; and introducing their services in local languages.

Additionally, the report calls for broadcasters, government bodies, and civil society organisations to fulfil their outlined roles in the hate speech and disinformation prevention and suppression proclamation to effectively address and mitigate these issues.