Gebrselassie blames Facebook for deadly violence
Publish date: 04 November 2019
Issue Number: 848
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Ethiopian running legend Haile Gebrselassie believes that fake news shared on Facebook was behind last week’s violence during which 78 people died. More than 400 people have been arrested for the ethnic and religious violence which broke out in Addis Ababa after a high-profile activist accused security forces of trying to orchestrate an attack against him. Police have denied the claim. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who came to power last year and was named this year's Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has been criticised for his government's response to the violence. A report on the News24 site notes that police spokesperson Billene Seyoum said the violence was the work of unnamed ‘elements’ that opposed Abiy's reform agenda, which has included freeing political prisoners and creating a more open political environment. Gebrselassie has threatened to sue Facebook if they fail to remove inflammatory posts. The double Olympic champion did not elaborate, but told the BBC that ‘fake news is easy to spread’. ‘The main cause, I believe, was Facebook,’ he added. The report notes that some fake videos have been shared on social media, including one of a claim that a local official was arming young men.