Addis Ababa Institute of Technology (AAit), Addis Ababa University (AAU), organized a panel discussion focused on Tributes and Perils of Social Media in Ethiopian Socio-Political Landscape at AAiT Meeting Hall on 24th Dec. 2020.

Six panelists came from different career backgrounds and organizations forwarded their views to the audience based on experiences what Social Media is practically playing in the socio-political landscape of Ethiopia.

The discussion tried to generate relevant insights regarding the positive and negative sides of Social Media use from psychological, political, media use, legal framework and technical perspectives which would be useful for research, policy making and general public consumption.

The panelists framed their discussion on two basic points: how to promote the positive sides and avoid the negative ones, and how to balance freedom of expression and national security in the use of Social Media.

Professor HabtamuWondimu, Psychologist and Sociologist, said that the responsibility of creating the knowhow of how to use social media in a positive way among the youth should begin from parents and schools follow.

 “Distorted information and hate speech are being expressed on social media as a result of the country’s policies, family negligence and ignorance among the youth,” Prof Habtamu remarked.

Befekadu Hailu, Director at Center of Advance Writing and Democracy, said the reason why some hateful or destructive ideas dominate Social Media is the masses, especially the youth, usually attracted by and focus to bad news.

Befekadu further reflected that Extremism happens as a result of the use of much controversial issues among the part of many Social Media users.

Netsanet Tesfaye, Communication Manager at Commodity Market Authority, on his part said that the basis why some people get a huge attention on Social Media with their evil ideas is because stereotypes are popular.

Netsanet added that a huge exercise of using social media is gaining attraction especially among the youth due to the fact that national information is not readily available from the state media.

Mesenbet Assefa (PhD), a Lawyer, noted that it is impossible to correct the illicit use of Social Media without altering the country’s political thinking.

“To regulate Social Media, the government must allow its citizens to criticize it freely,” Dr. Mesenbet emphasized.

By: Theodros Shewangizaw

Photo: Andualem Aseffa

Editor: Abraham Girmay