The Ethiopian social media landscape on various platforms was dominated by posts related to the resumed conflict between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Many posts and images appeared with claims on the status of northwestern areas of Tigray such as Shire and damages caused by the belligerents.
HaqCheck debunked some social media posts that related to the issues in the week. Here are the false claims that emerged on social media and were fact-checked by HaqCheck.
Ethiopian-Eritrean rocket attack on Shire town of Tigray
A Twitter account with more than 16 thousand followers shared a tweet on Oct 28, 2022, captioned “Eritrean/Ethiopian rocket attack on Shire Town [Tigray] injured several children”, and attached two images along with the post.
However, HaqCheck found the first image on a Facebook page with more than 600 thousand followers in a post on Oct 8, 2022, captioned, “Civilians and animals are dead by a drone strike at Shire [Tigray].” and attached ten images with the post.
Whereas the second image was found on a licensed commercial photo sharing platform called depositphotos.com. The image was posted on March 24, 2022, and is explained to show an unexploded rocket launcher BM-21 “Grad” on the Saltovsky massif in Kharkiv
Even if there are several claims that there was an airstrike by the Eritrean government in different parts of Tigray, the image used to show the rocket attack is wrong.
Therefore HaqCheck inspected the post and rendered it Partly-False.
False images of alleged aerial strikes in Shire town
Another debunked post was on a Facebook page that shared two images claiming that there was an aerial strike in Shire, Tigray by the Eritrean government deliberately targeting civilians.
However, HaqCheck inspected the post and found out that the images posted to support the claim were old and don’t show recent aerial strikes in Shire town, Tigray during the recently resumed fighting. The first image was first previously posted on Dec 04, 2020, by VOA Afaan Oromoo. The second image was published by BBC News Gahuza, a Rwandan language, on Nov 27, 2021. Thus, the post was rated Partly False.
Cliams of the Ethiopian army taking control of Shire city.
On Oct 14, 2022, a tweet was made sharing an image with a claim that the Ethiopian army has taken control of Shire city. The tweet was viral and shared many times across the platform.
The claim was produced after reports of fighting between the Ethiopian federal government-led forces and TPLF forces in areas near Shire town such as Adiyabo.
However, HaqCheck investigated the image and confirmed that the picture doesn’t support the claim.
The image was first published by the Associated Press on 17 Nov 2020. The news agency also announced at the time that the image was taken from an undated video released by the Ethiopian News Agency at the time.
Therefore, HaqCheck rated the Twitter post as False.
We recommend social media users be skeptical of random social media claims and controversial information. They should crosscheck unconfirmed claims and look for original sources of the information.
The belligerents in the war have to give timely information regarding ongoing issues. The lack of sufficient and accurate information regarding the status of the resumed fighting has fueled disinformation and controversy on the social media landscape.
The government and other relevant bodies are urged to guarantee the right of the public and media access to information.
HaqCheck urges social media content creators and influencers to be responsible and avoid circulating false and unverified information on digital media platforms.