Somalia bans TikTok and Telegram over ‘horrific’ content, misinformation

The armed group al-Shabab, which is waging war against the Somali state, uses the platforms to post its activities.

TikTok users in Somalia, who make money from posting videos or promoting their wares on the platform, say they oppose the move [File: Mike Blake/Reuters]

Somalia has banned video platform TikTok, messaging app Telegram, and online betting website 1XBet to limit the spread of indecent content and propaganda, its communications minister has said in a statement.

The order gave internet service providers until August 24 to comply.

“The minister of communications orders internet companies to stop the aforementioned applications, which terrorists and immoral groups use to spread constant horrific images and misinformation to the public,” the minister, Jama Hassan Khalif, said late on Sunday.

Members of the armed group al-Shabab often post about their activities on TikTok and Telegram.

The decision comes days after Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said a military offensive against al-Shabab aims to eliminate the al-Qaeda-linked group in the next five months.

TikTok declined to comment, saying it is awaiting official communication about the ban.

Telegram said in a statement it “consistently removes terrorist propaganda in Somalia and worldwide”. It added it “actively moderated” harmful content on its platform.

Reaction from users

Several TikTok users in Somalia who make money from posting videos or promoting their wares on the platform have said they opposed the move.

“The ban on TikTok will make the lights of many homes go off,” said Abdulkadir Ali Mohamed, who calls himself Somalia’s “TikTok President”. “Where will we get our daily bread?”

Halimo Hassan, who sells gold on TikTok, expressed concern that he will lose customers.

“I urge the government to allow TikTok for the public, but control how it is used in the cultural context of Somalia,” Hassan said.

The betting site 1XBet is popular in Somalia, especially for gambling on football matches.

TikTok has been threatened with bans in the United States over its alleged ties to the Chinese government. The US state of Montana became the first to ban the app in May.

Source: News Agencies