MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Somalia has banned TikTok, messaging app Telegram and online betting website 1XBet to limit the spread of indecent content and propaganda, its 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,” the minister, Jama Hassan Khalif, said in a statement late on Sunday.
Members of insurgent group al Shabaab often post about their activities on TikTok and Telegram.
The decision comes days after Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said a military offensive against al Shabaab aims to eliminate the al Qaeda-linked group in the next five months.
TikTok declined to comment, saying they were awaiting official communication about the ban.
Telegram said in a statement: “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 they opposed the ban.
“The ban on TikTok will make the lights of many homes go off,” said Abdulkadir Ali Mohamed, who calls himself Somalia’s “TikTok President”.
“Where will we get our daily bread?” he said.
Halimo Hassan, who sells gold on TikTok, was worried that she would lose customers.
“I urge the government to allow TikTok for the public, but control how it is used in the cultural context of Somalia,” Hassan said.
The order gave internet service providers until Aug. 24 to comply.
1XBet is popular in Somalia for betting, especially on soccer 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.
(This story has been refiled to say ‘she,’ not ‘he,’ in paragraph 11)
(Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; Writing by George Obulutsa and Hereward Holland; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Hugh Lawson)