Proceedings of The 5th International Conference on Advanced Research in Social Sciences and Humanities
Ethnic-Politics-Driven Social Media Hate Speech in Ethiopia Interregnum: A Triangulation of Prevalence, Perceptions, and Regulations
Muluken Asegidew, BisetAyalew Nigatu, Mulatu Alemayehu Moges
As youths’ protests the EPRDF’ government head to reform that has brought Abiy Ahmed to the Prime Minister position on April 2, 2018; subsequently, social media had been filled with unison messages. Nevertheless, the situation did not last long; ethnic tension has risen again; ethnically motivated conflicts have caused peoples’ death, and displacement. On February 2020, Abiy’s government has passed a law to regulate hate speech; however, critics have been rampant. Thus, a country in a state of interregnum, choked by ethnic-based politics and ethnic-based media, is worthy to be investigated how social media hate speech is prevailing, users perceive, and being regulated. A mixed-method approach was used with a pragmatism worldview as both underscore on problem. Using multi-stage sampling users’ comments offered on three purposeful selected Ethnic-media’s social media (ASRAT, OMN, and DWTV) were collected and analyzed in descriptive statistics. Adhering to sequential explanatory design, users’ focus group discussions, and law professionals’ interviews plus law documents were analyzed thematically; finally, both findings were integrated at the discussion. Accordingly, the study found a substantial prevalence of social media hate speech, dominated by offensive severity, and less incitement to violence, and genocide; ethnic-politics based hate was found overriding. Identity-driven contesting and incidents were the main triggering factors of social media hate speech. Informants noted that the law in placed to minimize hate speech has either now seemingly abused by the government for political interests or loosely implemented. Together with the law, political settlement and media literacy could be solutions to deter hate speech in Ethiopia.
keywords: online hate; hate prevalence; hate severity; hate natures; triggering factors; speech regulation.