Image: Christian Wiediger via Unsplash/Photomosh
Image: Christian Wiediger via Unsplash/Photomosh

Somalia bans TikTok, Telegram over ‘horrific' content

Somalia announced on Sunday a ban against social media platforms TikTok and Telegram, as well as the online betting platform 1XBet, saying they’re used by “terrorists” to spread “horrific images and misinformation.”

“These platforms have changed the lives of Somali youths and have caused some of them to lose their lives,” the country’s Ministry of Communications and Technology said in a statement.

The decision to ban the platforms was made amidst the country's military and political unrest, as the Somali government battles the al-Shabaab militant group. Just last week, Somalia’s president revealed a plan to eliminate the al-Shabaab group — which currently controls large parts of the country — within the next five months.

Al-Shabaab, which is linked to al-Qaeda and came to prominence in 2006 during the War in Somalia, often uses TikTok and Telegram to post about their activities. Russia-founded online gambling company 1XBet is popular in Somalia for betting on soccer matches.

Somali internet service providers must enforce the bans by August 24 or potentially face legal consequences.

Other African countries have voiced concerns about TikTok, a video hosting service owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. Earlier this month, Senegal suspended TikTok due to worries that the platform was fueling violent protests in the country.

Kenya is also considering banning TikTok over its alleged promotion of "inappropriate" behavior and the sharing of user information with a third-party company without obtaining users' consent.

TikTok is dealing with legal actions globally. Back in April, the U.K. imposed a $15.8 million fine on the company for mishandling children's data. The U.S. and several cities, including New York, have banned government employees from using the app due to concerns that ByteDance might be sharing user data with the Chinese government.

The company’s CEO told U.S. lawmakers in March that ByteDance "isn't owned or controlled by the Chinese government."

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Daryna Antoniuk

Daryna Antoniuk

is a reporter for Recorded Future News based in Ukraine. She writes about cybersecurity startups, cyberattacks in Eastern Europe and the state of the cyberwar between Ukraine and Russia. She previously was a tech reporter for Forbes Ukraine. Her work has also been published at Sifted, The Kyiv Independent and The Kyiv Post.