Ethiopia to create local rival for Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp | Social Media News

The decision comes after the government accused Facebook of deleting accounts “spreading the real reality about Ethiopia”.

Ethiopia has started developing its own social media platform to rival Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, although it does not plan to block global services, the national communications security agency said.

Ethiopia has been embroiled in an armed conflict since last year between the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which controls the Tigray region in the north of the country.

Supporters on both sides have waged a parallel war of words on social media.

The government wants its local platform to “replace” Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Zoom, the director general of the Information Network Security Agency (INSA), Shumete Gizaw, said on Monday.

Shumete accused Facebook of deleting posts and user accounts which he said “spread the true reality of Ethiopia”.

International human rights groups have criticized the Ethiopian government for unexplained shutdowns of social media services, including Facebook and WhatsApp, over the past year. The government has not commented on these closures.

Facebook Africa spokeswoman Kezia Anim-Addo declined to comment on Ethiopia’s plans and did not immediately respond to a question about Shumete’s accusations.

But in June, days before national elections, Facebook said it had taken down a network of fake accounts in Ethiopia targeting domestic users that it linked to people associated with INSA, which is responsible for telecommunications surveillance and security. ‘Internet.

Twitter declined to comment. Zoom did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shumete declined to specify a timeline, budget and other details, but told Reuters news agency: “The logic behind developing technology with local capability is clear…Why do you think that China uses WeChat?”

He said Ethiopia had the local expertise to develop the platforms and would not hire foreigners to help.

The social messaging app WeChat, owned by Chinese company Tencent Holdings, is widely used in the country and is seen as a powerful tool by Chinese authorities to monitor its population.

Shumete also referred Reuters to comments he made to local media on Friday in which he accused Facebook of blocking users who “preached national unity and peace”.

He also told Al-Ain Amharic that the authorities are working on the platform to replace Facebook and Twitter, while a trial has already been carried out on a platform to replace WhatsApp and Zoom and that this platform will be soon operational.