The Somali government has for years struggled to deal with activities of militants from al-Shabaab, a group that has launched series of deadly attacks killing thousands of people.
Al-Shabaab has been fighting to topple the Somali government for more than 10 years. It wants to establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law.
The group’s members often use social media platforms to spread their messages and the government now wants to target platforms like TikTok and Telegram.
It has announced a ban on those platforms hoping to thwart the activities of these militants.
The Somali government has also banned the online betting platform 1Xbet, a statement from the Communications Minister said.
It said the banned platforms are being used by terrorists and groups responsible for spreading immorality to spread misleading information.
“The Minister for 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 in a statement late on Sunday.
The decision comes days after Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud announced a military offensive against al Shabaab.
It is an ambitious target to crush the al-Shabab militant group linked to al Qaeda within the next five months. There has not been any response from TikTok, Telegram and 1XBet.
From August 24, internet service providers are required to implement the ban or face unspecified legal action, the ministry of communications and technology said in a statement.
A recent conference on internet and social media security in the capital, Mogadishu, highlighted the negative impact of online platforms on young people, including “causing some of them to lose their lives”.
TikTok under scrutiny
On August 2, Senegalese authorities suspended the TikTok application until “further notice”.
This is due to what authorities described as the dissemination of “hateful and subversive” messages following protests against the imprisonment of opposition figure Ousmane Sonko.
“It has been noted that the TikTok application is the social network preferred by ill-intentioned people to disseminate hateful and subversive messages threatening the stability of the country,” said Moussa Bocar Thiam, Minister of Communication and the Digital Economy, in a statement.
The Speaker of Kenya’s parliament has also received a petition to ban TikTok in the country for promoting “inappropriate” behaviour and sharing information about its users with a third-party company without users’ consent.
Speaker Moses Wetang’ula said petitioner Bob Ndolo, a private citizen, had sent a letter to parliament, asking it to intervene and take immediate action to safeguard Kenyans from Tik Tok’s negative effects.
“The petitioner has decried that the content that is being shared on the social media platform is inappropriate and is promoting violence, vulgar language, explicit sexual content, hate speech which is a serious threat to the cultural and religious values in Kenya,” the Speaker said, reading from a statement received from the petitioner.
Internationally, several countries including Canada, Belgium, and the US have either banned TikTok or restricted its usage due to numerous reasons.