Failure of Governance, State Legitimacy, and Hate Speech in Ethiopia: Use of Social Media Post 2018

Failure of Governance, State Legitimacy, and Hate Speech in Ethiopia: Use of Social Media Post 2018

Degwale Gebeyehu Belay
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-7472-3.ch018
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Despite social media has supplied a great role in bringing the current political landscape of Ethiopia, a couple of months after PM Dr. Abiy took hold of power, hate speech on social media has become common. This has made the government police social media by drafting laws on hate speech since April 2019. This study has the objective of exploring the interplay between spoil political system, government legitimacy and hate speech on social media. This study adopted qualitative research approach. Data has been gathered data from social media e.g. Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram. Different pages and informal discussions were important tools of data collection. From the findings, the author concludes with the argument that laws are not effective to end hate speech, but can be done by bringing legitimate government, good governance, equality, and justice to the country.
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1. Introduction

Every change in technology entails a number of changes in the ways it can be used. With the advent of social media, which belongs to a collective category of Web 2.0, the so far irrefutable position of the traditional media has been compromised (Maksymowicz, 2014; Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Networking is the key feature of social media, which makes it a powerful tool for sharing and disseminating information online. Schieb and Preuss (2016) also stated that internet enables boundless, rather inexpensive, and ubiquitous communication, providing individuals with immediate information, enabling to share opinions, and bringing people together.

Social media has not only become a fertile soil for the spread of hateful ideas but also motivates real-life action. Social media as indicated in Maksymowicz (2014) is a natural consequence of the natural desire of people to instantly communicate and share information and knowledge which is not possible in the traditional media.

As stated in Joseph (2012), people share information on social networking sites, of which Facebook and Twitter are among the most popular. These sites are very versatile, enabling the sharing of text, pictures, videos, audio files, and applications. Facebook enables users to create a profile page and share information with an unlimited number of virtual “friends.” These, “friends” are usually known to the user in real life, but this connection is not essential. However, along with the good it did, there is also the notice of various problematic issues such as an increase in websites, communities, postings, comments, pictures and videos devoted to hateful speech and other antisocial activities (Benesch, 2014; Erjavec & Kovacic, 2012; Citron & Norton, 2011).

Hate speech on social media is damaging not just to the wellbeing of users, but also to an open, egalitarian society (Spencer-Smith, 2018). As stated in Spencer-Smith (2018), UK law does not hold social media companies liable for abusive messages sent by users for the reason that internet companies are service providers offering communications platforms and are not publishers with an editorial responsibility. However, Spencer-Smith (2018) further stated that in cases of repeated or extreme abuse, social media providers typically suspend or close user accounts. However, it is important to note that removal decisions are based on company policy and not on the national law any country.

The massive influence of social media, as well as the changing, dynamic nature of its impact on both public and private life, means the governments of any country would benefit from its approach to social media providers and updating governance.

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