The Smartphone Warriors of Minneapolis

by the Strathink Editorial Team

Social media is king. The power of social media to influence large groups of people in the blink of an eye is unprecedented in modern history. But with great power comes great responsibility.

This week Facebook removed the pages of Britain First from its online social media platform. Britain First is a far-right anti-Muslim group in Great Britain whose leaders were recently convicted of hate crimes. In banning the group, Facebook said they had “repeatedly posted content designed to incite animosity and hatred against minority groups.”

Facebook said “There are times … when legitimate political speech crosses the line and becomes hate speech designed to stir up hatred against groups in our society.”

In the United States, Facebook was a key part of the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. Agents acting on behalf of the Russian government bought ads to fake accounts linked to the Russian propaganda group Internet Research Agency. The content shared by those accounts reached 126 million Facebook users, including more than 62,000 of whom signed up to attend events organized by those fake Russian accounts.

In Minnesota, Jawar Mohammed spreads fake news, hate speech and incendiary statements against the Tigrayan ethnic group on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. These actions are intended to mobilize Oromo youth inside Ethiopia to commit acts of violence. Jawar’s posts have been periodically blocked by Facebook for violent content.

Jawar Mohamed does this from his comfortable home in Minnesota while sipping on Starbucks lattes. In the meantime, Ethiopia’s youth are being led down a dangerous path by a demagogue enjoying the comforts of the American heartland.

Jawar Mohamed is not the only diaspora Ethiopian using social media to advocate violence and spew hate speech on social media platforms. There are others who seek to manipulate young Ethiopians through social media in a transparent to further their ambition to seize power from the government.

These actions should be universally condemned. Promoting violence while enjoying the comfort and security of the United States is especially egregious. The blood that flows from every civilian and every policeman injured or killed during the violent protests will stain the hands of those like Jawar.

Spewing hate speech against ethnic groups is not a new tactic. In just the last century, Germany murdered 6 million Jews who Hitler and his Nazi Party accused of controlling the country. In 1994, Hutu extremists made the same accusation about the Tutsi and almost one million Tutsis and Hutu moderates were murdered by family, friends and neighbors.

The consequences of promoting violence and inciting hatred towards a group of people are clear.

What is different about today’s incitement to violence and hate speech is the speed and scope of dissemination over social media platforms.

And although Facebook and other social media use algorithms to catch and delete such dangerous posts, there are flaws in the system.

For all peace-loving people who oppose the use of social media to incite violence and spread hatred, there are things you can do.

First, support legislation that would fine social media companies for failing to delete hate speech, fake news and calls to incite violence. Germany did it, passing one of the most aggressive legislative efforts in the west to regulate content posted online.

Second, report anyone who uses social media to law enforcement officials. In the U.S., for examples, there are laws against hate speech and promoting the violent overthrow of a country friendly to the United States—the Neutrality Act of 1794.

Third, organize the community to expose the person using social media to incite violence and promote hate speech. Contact the media, churches and mosques, and your representative. Organize. Organize. Organize.

People like Jawar Mohammed depend on the media and other institutions to legitimize themselves. Provide translations of tweets and Facebook posts. Pressure the media and government officials to make public statements condemning hate speech and incitement to violence. Unless others are informed about the hate speech and violence promoted by those like Jawar Mohammed, they will continue to glorify the criminals, aiding and abetting those who seek power by manipulation.

Jawar Mohammed and others like him are the Starbucks warriors who tweet and post while sipping on five dollar lattes. For them, the struggle in Ethiopia is played out on their smartphones, away from the real life consequences of violence and hate speech.

Go home, Jawar. Go home and do the hard work to make change. Tweeting and posting is the easy part. Go home and lead the people of Ethiopia out of this crisis. You can leave your phone behind.

13 Responses to “The Smartphone Warriors of Minneapolis”

  1. Yossarian says:

    Imagine having a web-based show entitled “HATE SPEECH IS A CRIME”. Every time you choose one of those notorious offenders, translate the video in English and ask the special branch of the police, community leaders, lawyers and the employers of these people to give their comments. There will be no more hiding, and everybody will discover what they do behind closed doors. And before you know it, the long arm of the law will be knocking on their door!

    Yossarian

  2. Negash says:

    The general public knows the truth but if got lies repeatedly they might be confusrdor even mislead by the likes of Juhar but temporarily until they know it is dangerous
    :

  3. dur says:

    TPLF killed 10 innocent people and ugly agame worried about a media man

  4. Darakku says:

    Yesterdays liberation fighters and today’s dictators must understand that they are not welcomed in Oromiya. It is very sad to see freedom fighters becaming shiftas. The problem they have is not one Jawar but 60 millions of jawars. They better stop killing Oromos and leave Oromiya before it is too late.

    Darakku

  5. Addis says:

    Jawar and co spreading hatred should not go unchecked as it will ultimately affect all Ethiopians and not just one ethnic group. Jawar is absolutely enjoying the screen game except it’s not a game in the real world. On the other hand, the Ethiopian government needs to unequivocally, consistently and openly oppose hate speeches targeting one ethnic group. Mutual respect and fair coexistence leaps Ethiopia forward. Unfortunately, Jawar and co have a different agenda and they need to be countered both in the US and Ethiopia.

  6. agazi hadgu says:

    I have thoroughly read your article it is well articulated and written the exact situation in Ethiopia. Tigrayan ethinic are being target because of hate speech by Jawar Mohammed and his supporters Egypt finance and Eritrean logistics. They are enticing a genocide social media like facebook and twitter should act responsibly before they are being target by law markets.

  7. Wedereta says:

    That is right! People who are instigating violence while enjoying life in the civilized world should be known by every peace loving people in the west. ESAT, OMN have been indoctrinating youth to hate a particular ethnic group in Ethiopia, the Tigrean ethnic group. ESAT have unequivocally called for the genocide of the Tigrean ethnic group in broad day light; an act which is punishable under international law. So, it is good for you guys to publish this article. It at least helps to give some insight of what is going on as far as politics and Ethiopia is concerned. The kings of hate speech should be brought before Justice for over passing international law.

  8. Abdisa Aga says:

    Jawar is a hero for Oromos!!Only Oromos can talk about Jawar. Jawar didn’t build Skyscrappers in Addis by stealing Oromos Money!!Jawar didn’t steal Amahara’s land and claimed it for Tigreyans! Jawar speaks for Oromos!!!

  9. Abdisa Aga says:

    Jawar can’t go home because TPLF doesn’t let him to educate Oromos about their history, rights and country. The country belongs to Tigrayans only!!!! Tigrayans control the economy(EFFORT!!), Military, and the intelligence. Before accusing Jawar of hate, you have to apologize the Ethiopian people for stealing the Amahara Land and making it part of Tigray by settling Tigrayans!! You have apologize for monopolizing the Ethiopian economy by Marginalizing Oromos and Amharas!!Tigrayans are 6% of the Ethiopian population but control everything because they are the smartest creatures on the universe!!

  10. Addis says:

    What is the obsession with 6%? It’s a deliberate characterization of a certain group to instigate violence and promote one’s selfish agenda. Those who genuinely believe 6% of the population is controlling the country should visit and see for themselves the live standard of the 6%. But they are not interested in verifying facts as it will undermine their agenda and they are overwhelmed by hate. For sure, the leading party has lots of flaws but most of the crisis is based on the ‘hate’ propaganda which went unchecked for so many years.
    Maya Angelou said “Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”

  11. dagmawi says:

    Ethio strategic your your articles are well researched informative and focused but you always took long to post another article anyway keep up the good work!!

  12. dagmawi says:

    Guys the so called Abdisa Aga is a sad Eritrean who thinks his several depends on Ethiopian misery …he is a well known racist on Facebook

  13. tolosa says:

    I support jawar and isayas.there must be some thing in africa that helps reduce its breeding population. Epidemic, war etc is important to reduce the population. So we have to in courage fight between tigrai vs eritrea, somalia vs oromo,wewelkait vs sidamo.and the winner will fight against alshabab to be able to fight bokoharam for the final round.do not expect anything thing constructive from a african men.

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