Facebook has pulled down a network of accounts in Ethiopia which it says are linked to the country’s cyber-security agency, accusing it of posting false and misleading content targeting domestic users ahead of next week’s elections.
Facebook said the network posted mainly in Amharic about news and current events, including about Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his Prosperity Party. It said the network posted critical commentary about opposition politicians and groups including the Oromo Liberation Front, Ethiopian Democratic Party, and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front among others.
Ethiopia’s Information Network and Security Agency was co-founded and formerly led by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
The decision to remove the accounts comes five days ahead of the country’s national elections.
Facebook said the network of accounts, groups, and pages on Facebook and Instagram had violated its rules against “coordinated inauthentic behavior” and had accelerated its posting in 2020 and into 2021. It said the network had recently commented on U.S. sanctions on Ethiopia.
The accounts were used to post spam and misleading content, as well as criticism of opposition parties and groups, the tech giant said.
That includes the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which has been in conflict with the country’s defense forces in the northern region of Tigray for the last seven months.