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Keeping Public Influencers in Check

By MFC Staff

The purpose of human and political rights advocates is to receive information and share it to their followers. However, they may sometimes be prone to crossing lines if they do not provide accurate facts or the whole story. Dr. Henok G. Gabisa, who has over 220k followers on Facebook and 155k on Twitter, is one of the many public influencers and rights advocates who share information he receives from the youth activists back in Oromia, Ethiopia. MFC staff spoke to Dr. Gabisa about one of his recently disseminated information and asked for answers on how he verifies the facts of the incidents before sharing it. 

On August 23, 2021, Dr. Henok Gabisa shared a screenshot on his Facebook page of an in-boxed message regarding the protracted conflict in East Wollega. The statement reads that after the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) left Siree Dooroo of Kiramu District of the East Wollega Zone, a security vacuum was created for Amhara militia and armed forces to enter the region and displace and kill civilian people in Siree Dooroo. 

MFC interrogated Dr. Gabisa on how one can verify or confirm the fact that the claimed incidents have taken place on the stated date. Henok, who stood by the statement, said “given the circumstances of the pre-existing conflict in the area, the in-boxed message has substantial probative value in verifying the matter, adding “there is no reason to believe otherwise. We are not making an outlandish new claim or a new story. This was a true story that was built up from an existing situation that is already in the public domain. The difference is that I managed to bring it to the public attention”

In the shared screenshot, the informant who inboxed the message stated that he was living in the capital Addis Ababa, and kept on narrating what happened in the East Wollega Zone of Oromia Regional State. Regarding the difficulties of sharing such contents when the informant and Henok are located hundreds and thousands of kilometers away from where the incidents were said to have taken place, Henok has this to say: “I would not take the story on its face value; first, I cross-check it. I call or text different informants from the same area, and if there is a substantial consistency, I would rule that this may be strong evidence of what is happening on the ground. Sometimes, this can be true; or it might not be true. In some situations, I get the same stories from five different informants. They might not use the same wordings or language, but the message is all commonly the same. That tells me that there is a degree of veracity to the story.”

On September 24, 2021, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) released a statement regarding the security situation in the Zone. It has been stated that 29 people were killed in Boka Kebele and Wolmai Kebele on September 17 and 18, 2021. The statement added that the conflict in the Zone has led to the displacement of more than 40,000. 

We at the MFC strive to verify misleading and false claims so that people get fact-based information and make an informed decision as well. In the process of our work, accuracy and transparency hold a central role. Therefore, if you see errors in our content, please write to us at [email protected] so that our team will make corrections.

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ሓደ ናይ ፌስቡክ ገጽ "ናይ ሻዕብያ ስራሕ ኣብ ትግራይ ዝገበሮ" ዝብል ጽሑፍ ዘለዎ ቪድዮ ኣካፊሉ
“አቶ ታዲዮስ ታንቱ ከእስር ተፈትተዋል” የሚሉ መረጃዎች በፌስቡክ እና በትዊተር ላይ እየተሰራጩ ይገኛሉ። ይሁን እንጂ

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(MFC) is an independent fact-checking organization which is launched to pin-point, track-down, scrutinize, investigate, interrogate, publish and distribute the factual accuracy of claims made by public figures. MFC’s project has geographical priorities. Our work mainly focuses on nations in the Horn of Africa and their diaspora community who reside abroad. We operates from various regions of Africa, Europe and North America. Through a multitude of professional proficiency, MFC deploys best practices of journalism, scholarship and expertise in order to flag, investigate and publish a fact.

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