During the month of October, almost all the debunked posts were related to the armed conflict in the Tigray regional state and neighboring states.
Only one post not related to the armed conflict was debunked.
Close to 90 percent of debunked posts accompanied by images
Almost all the false posts debunked by HaqCheck were accompanied by images.
We observe a few false social media contents supported by video clips. HaqCheck published nine standard fact-checking articles during the month of October. However, eight out of the nine debunked social media posts were supported by false and old images.
The only debunked social media post supported by a false video clip was shared on a Facebook post on October 5. The post shared a video clip and it claimed that the video shows the Ethiopian government sending its airforce commandos from the Bishoftu air force base to Asmara.
The video was taken from an old publication previously posted on Aug 29, 2022. The short description of the original video stated that it shows Ethiopian airborne troops conducting training.
Main issues behind false social media posts
HaqCheck figured out six main issues that false social media claims in the month of October were related to. These issues were transportation and deployment of armed forces, Sudan’s involvement in the armed conflict, aerial and ground attacks on civilians and torture, destroyed enemy weapons and facilities, the capture of places, and the American flag being burnt during a rally in Addis Ababa.
Transportation of soldiers and deployment of forces
False images and a video clip were disseminated supporting claims related to the transportation of soldiers and deployment of armed forces to battlefronts in the armed conflict.
For instance, a Facebook page posted a false image claiming that Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers and Amhara regional forces were being transported to launch attacks via the Tekeze river up to northeastern areas of Tigray.
The image used to prove the claim was first posted on Sep 16, 2021, in an article titled “Ethiopia: UN-TPLF scandal like another layer of tacit support surfaced”
Sudanese involvement in the conflict
The indirect involvement of Sudan in the Tigray armed conflict supporting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was also one of the issues that prompted false image-backed claims on social media platforms.
HaqCheck debunked a Facebook post accompanied by four old images claiming that the Ethiopian army along with the Amhara armed forces destroyed TPLF armed units that tried to launch attacks from Sudan via Humera and Metema.
All the images presented to support the claim were old and not related to the issue and the post was rated False.
Aerial and ground attacks on civilians and torture
Many social media posts with claims that civilians were the victim of aerial and ground attacks and tortures by troops were popping up during the month.
The post which presented two images to prove its claim was rated Partly-False because one of the two images was old and from another place. The image was posted on Mar 24, 2022, showing an unexploded rocket in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Destroyed enemy weapons and facilities
Images of alleged destroyed weapons belonging to the belligerents of the armed conflict during the recent fighting were circulating on social media platforms.
HaqCheck fact-checked a social media post that shared three images with a claim that the Ethiopian Air Force destroyed TPLF’s arms depot in the town of Shire.
The post was rated False by HaqCheck because all the images were old.
The capture of places during the recent fighting
The capture of places by the belligerents during the recent fighting between the Ethiopian federal government-led allied forces and the TPLF was one of the main issues of false and controversial information on social media.
For example, on Oct 14, 2022, a tweet was made sharing an image with a claim that the Ethiopian army took control of Shire town. The tweet was shared many times across the platform.
The US flag being burnt during a rally in Addis Ababa
At the end of the month, HaqCheck observed claims that rally attendants burned the US flag during a rally in Addis Ababa opposing American intervention in Ethiopia’s domestic issues.
The post was rated False due to the usage of an inaccurate image to prove the claim. The image was first posted on the Skynews website with a news headline of ‘Haitians burn flags in anti-government demo’.
HaqCheck recommends social media users be cautious and cross-check claims. They should be skeptical and look for additional sources for controversial information they encounter.
We recommend that the belligerents in the war should be responsible and avoid contaminating public life through disinformation campaigns. They should give factual updates.
Government and other entities should offer the media and public timely and sufficient information. They should also ensure full access to information for the media and the wider public.