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Somalia orders ban on TikTok, Telegram

August 21, 2023

Somalia asked internet providers to comply with an order to remove TikTok and Telegram to curb the spread of indecent images and extremist propaganda.

Tik Tok logo, as the government of Somalia moves to remove the app from its internet services to curb the spread of propaganda and extremist content
Somalia has asked to remove the apps for the first time and has given internet service providers until August 24 to comply with the orderImage: Joly Victor/abaca/picture alliance

Somalia ordered a ban on TikTok, Telegram, and gambling site 1XBet to curb the spread of indecent images and propaganda, the communications minister said.

"The minister of 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," Jama Hassan Khalif said in a statement on Sunday.

This is the first official attempt by a government institution in Somalia to shut down platforms on social media. 

Somalia doubles down on counteroffensive against al-Shabab

The Somalian government has doubled down on its aim of taking back territories occupied by al-Shabab militants.

Somalian President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said he hoped to beat back the group by the end of this year. 

The government launched a counteroffensive against al-Shabab last year in August 2022. The group controlled vast areas of the country, but experts say they are optimistic about the counteroffensive as the group was in retreat in many places.

Al-Shabab is the largest and most active al-Qaeda network in the world, according to the US Africa Command. Members of the militant group regularly use Telegram and Tik Tok to post about their activities.

Al-Shabab extremists: Why is the group terrorizing Somalia?

Internet services asked to comply by August 24

The Somalian goverment gave internet service providers until August 24 to comply.

Tik Tok declined to comment on the order, saying they are awaiting official communication about the ban, Reuters news agency reported.

Telegram said in a statement that it "consistently removes terrorist propaganda in Somalia and worldwide" and that it actively moderated harmful content on its platform.

At the same time, content creators or persons who earn money on either platforms say they're worried about the ban because it halts their source of income. 

rm/jcg (Reuters, AP)