Almost all the social media false claims debunked by HaqCheck last week were related to an ongoing conflict in the Oromo Special and North Shewa zones of the Amhara regional state.
The Ethiopian social media landscape is always dominated by posts related to ongoing incidents. Media reports indicate that there was an ongoing conflict in the North Shewa and the Oromo Special zones of the Amhara regional state.
Thus, the claims and controversies during the week were mostly related to the looming conflict in the areas of the two zones which are characterized by ethnic and religious diversity.
HaqCheck did three fact-checking articles last week. A summary of the issues is presented below.
A video of torched Oromo houses
On Jan 23, 2023, a video was shared by a Facebook page with more than six thousand followers claiming that houses belonging to ethnic Oromos were torched in an ongoing conflict in the Oromo Special Zone of the Amhara region.
The claim emerged amid surfacing social media reports that there was an ongoing conflict in areas of the two volatile zones. The post claimed that the video shows Oromo houses being burnt in an ongoing conflict in the Amhara region.
The video, however, does not support the claim. The video was made up of images by converting a picture into a moving image or video.
The original image was taken from an old publication made on Dec 23, 2020. The original image was published along with a report that many civilians were massacred in the Metekel zone of Benishangul Gumuz.
Therefore, the post was rated False.
A false image of a recent conflict in Ataye town, Amhara region
An image was shared on Facebook with a claim that the picture shows an ongoing violent conflict in the town of Ataye, Amhara regional state. The image was posted along with two others on Facebook on Jan 24, 2023, by a page that has over five thousand followers.
The same image was also shared in another Facebook post with the same claim that it shows an ongoing conflict in Ataye.
The posts by the Facebook pages with over five thousand followers each are expected to reach many audiences.
Yet, HaqCheck confirmed that the image was old and doesn’t show an ongoing conflict in the area. However, HaqCheck investigated the claim and confirmed that the image was old.
The original picture was first published on Facebook in April 2019 with a caption that the image shows a church destroyed by fire in the town of Ataye at that time.
Therefore, the claim was rated False.
OLA militants attacked police officers in Jewha, Amhara regional state
Oromo Liberation Army militants opened a sudden attack on a camp and killed more than 20 police officers during an ongoing conflict in Jewha town, Amhara regional state, claimed a Facebook post made on Jan 22, 2023. The claim was backed with an image.
The claim was made in the context of the ongoing conflict in the area. However, HaqCheck investigated the image and confirmed that the image used to support the claim was old.
The image was originally published on a website on March 20, 2021, along with a short news story.
Thus, HaqCheck rated the post as False.
HaqCheck urges social media content creators and influencers to be responsible and avoid disseminating false information.
We recommend social media users be cautious and look for additional sources for misleading and controversial claims.
The government and public offices are recommended to provide updates and sufficient information about ongoing public matters.