TikTok and African Union partner on a digital safety campaign amid country bans

March 20, 2024
2 min read
  • TikTok, a short-form mobile video company, and the African Union Commission's Women, Gender, and Youth Directorate (WGYD) have partnered to raise awareness of online safety among African youth and parents.
  • This development comes as the short-form mobile video company faces increased global scrutiny, including bans in Senegal and Somalia in August 2023.
  • According to TikTok, the campaign aims to raise awareness and educate everyone, including youth, parents, and educators, on how to stay safe online, with plans to create content tailored to local languages and cultures to ensure broad relevance and impact.

TikTok has become so popular in Africa that in June 2023, a Reuters Institute Digital News Report revealed that Kenya ranked first among the world's top TikTok users, with South Africa coming in third. 

Meanwhile, in August 2023, a petition to ban TikTok in Kenya was submitted to the National Assembly Speaker, citing inappropriate and violent content, foul language, explicit sexual content, and hate speech as endangering Kenya's cultural and religious values.

Although TikTok avoided a national ban, it was forced to take more drastic measures to remove offensive content from its platform. In the same month, the Somali government banned the social media platform due to concerns about terrorist content. 

Senegal followed suit, suspending the social media platform because it was the primary channel for disseminating hateful and subversive messages that threatened the country's stability.

During this period, Egypt and Uganda also contemplated banning the platform. 

As the social media platform continues to get entwined with various issues in Africa and beyond, this development will foster a digitally safe environment and safeguard the digital futures of Africans. 

According to Prudence Nonkululeko Ngwenya, Director of the African Union's Women, Gender, and Youth Directorate, this development is consistent with the African Union's ongoing efforts to promote and advocate for safe online experiences for young people in Africa, as well as their mental health, through the 1 Million Next Level Initiative. 

The US House of Representatives has passed legislation requiring TikTok's Chinese owner, ByteDance, to sell the social media platform or face a ban in the country. 

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