The government of Somalia has announced that it'll ban social media platforms — TikTok and Telegram — and an online betting site, 1Xbet, to combat and stop indecent activities, content, and propaganda for extremism.
In a statement, Jama Hassan Khalif, the Minister of Communications and Technology, gave Internet Service Providers until August 24, 2023, to implement the ban or face legal action.
Khalif demanded telcos in Somalia block access to the platforms because terrorists and immoral organisations use them to spread horrifying images and misinformation to the public.
He also said that the use of social media by terrorist organisations poses a constant threat to the safety and stability of society.
Consequently, the ministry is working to safeguard Somalis' moral behaviour when using communication and Internet tools, which have impacted their way of life and increased "bad practices."
The move comes months after Somali President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, declared another military offensive against al-Shabaab to eliminate it within the next five months.
Al-Shabaab means "the youth" in Arabic. It first appeared as the radical youth wing of the now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts in Somalia, which ruled Mogadishu in 2006 before Ethiopian forces drove them out.
In August 2022, the Somali government launched an offensive against al-Shabaab, seizing the opportunity to capitalise on growing unrest regarding the Islamist insurgency, particularly among the politically powerful Hawiye clan.
Al-Shabaab insurgents frequently post about their activities on TikTok and Telegram. They post videos, press releases, and audio of interviews with their commanders on Telegram's messaging platform.
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In 2022, the Somali government ordered Internet Service Providers to block al-Shabab websites, but some platforms remain accessible globally.
1XBet, on the other hand, has sparked concerns about the likelihood of gambling addiction in young people.
What’s more, last week, Briget Connect Consultancy CEO, Bob Ndolo, submitted a petition to National Assembly Speaker, Moses Wetang'ula, asking to ban TikTok in Kenya.