Somalia has banned TikTok, messaging app Telegram and online betting website 1XBet to limit the spread of indecent content and propaganda, its communications minister has announced. The ministerial order gives internet service providers until 24 August to comply.
“Internet companies have been ordered to stop the aforementioned applications, which terrorists and immoral groups use to spread constant horrific images and misinformation to the public,” Jama Hassan Khalif said on Sunday. Members of insurgent group Al-Shabaab often post about their activities on TikTok and Telegram, reported Reuters.
The decision comes days after Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said a military offensive against Al-Shabaab aims to eliminate the group, which is linked to Al-Qaeda, within the next five months.
TikTok declined to comment, saying that it is awaiting official communication about the ban. Telegram, though, said: “Telegram consistently removes terrorist propaganda in Somalia and worldwide.” It added that it “actively moderated” harmful content on its platform. 1XBet did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
Several TikTok users in Somalia who make money from posting videos or promoting their wares on the platform said that they opposed the ban. “The ban on TikTok will make the lights of many homes go off,” said Abdulkadir Ali Mohamed. The self-styled “TikTok President” of Somalia asked, “Where will we get our daily bread?”
Halimo Hassan, who sells gold on TikTok, is worried that she 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,” she suggested.
1XBet is popular in Somalia for betting, especially on football matches. TikTok has been threatened with bans in the United States over its alleged ties to the Chinese government. The state of Montana became the first to ban the app in May.