Social Media Shutdown in Ethiopia following Exam Papers Leakage Online

Social Media Shutdown in Ethiopia following Exam Papers Leakage Online

Currently in Ethiopia, it is that time of the year when students are sitting for their University entrance exams. Apparently, there has been an exam leakage, and the papers are being shared online, particularly over social media.

Thus, the government has taken steps to contain the situation by shutting down social media across Ethiopia. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Viber are said to be currently not accessible across the country.

This shutdown is supposed to be temporary until the university entrance exams are over. After which, regular social media service will be back.

It’s a temporary measure until Wednesday. Social media have proven to be a distraction for students,” said Getachew Reda, the Ethiopia Government spokesman.

History of Media Censorship in Ethiopia

The government of Ethiopia was among the first African government to censor the internet. In fact, the government has been accused of censoring too much opposition blogs and human rights website; they are frequently blocked.

Related: Africa Governments increasingly Blocking Social Media

Social media has been shut down a number of times in Ethiopia in the past, but only for a couple of hours. However, this would be the first time the Ethiopian government has come out and claimed responsibility for the social media shut down. This time is also the first time it has been done nationwide and for an extended period.

A Precursor for Tougher Censorship to come

One of the Ethiopian journalists while speaking to The BBC anonymously said that this shutdown is just the beginning and sign for worse censorship to come.

The government here is very keen to control social media,” said the anonymous correspondent. “They will learn from this, next time there is a protest, they will use the experience to do another nationwide clampdown.”

The editor of Horn Affairs magazine, Daniel Berhane Tweeted:

History of Tight Media Control

Ethiopia has a history of very tight control of mainstream media. Something that has pushed many with views opposing those of the government finding alternative platforms like social media and blogs as the only means to air their displeasure with the government of the day.

Back in 2012, the government took down Skype in a campaign to clamp down VoIP (voice over internet protocol) services. The government made the accusation that VoIP services were being used by people to conduct fraudulent affairs.

This social media clampdown in Ethiopia comes against a backdrop of a UN Human Rights Council resolution last week, classifying internet censorship as a violation of human rights.

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