The TikTok, Telegram, and 1xBet websites are prohibited from accessing the country’s internet, according to an order from Somalia’s Ministry of Communications and Technology.
Jama Hassan Khalif, the minister of communications and technology, issued the directive in a statement on Sunday, citing security and counterterrorism as justifications.
The statement said that the safety and security of society were constantly threatened by terrorist organizations’ use of social media.
Additionally, the Ministry stated that it is striving to safeguard Somalis’ moral behavior when utilizing communication and internet resources, which have impacted way of life and encouraged “bad practices,” according to the statement.
In the statement, Khalif stated that “you are being ordered to shut down the applications mentioned above by Thursday, August 24, 2023 at 11:30 evening, at the latest.” Anyone who disobeys this instruction will be subject to clear and appropriate legal consequences.
The extremist organization al-Shabab frequently broadcasts audio recordings of commander interviews as well as videos and news releases on Telegram’s chat platform.
Al-Shabab frequently updates websites and Telegram with news about its strikes in a matter of minutes. As soon as their Telegram accounts are deleted, the group frequently generates new ones.
TikTok is thought to be the Somalia website with the fastest growth. Young individuals and even government leaders utilize it.
Last week, TikTok published a statement announcing that it has held a number of seminars in Somalia with different stakeholders to keep the network secure.
The statement read, “In Somalia, our team removed more than 280,000 videos during the same period that violated its guidelines.”
“We found 98.7% of these objectionable movies and removed them before they were reported. Our proactive approach demonstrates our dedication to upholding a secure and lawful environment for our users. https://newsroom.tiktok.com/en-africa/digital-safety-a-shared-responsibility-we-are-proud-to-prioritise
Social media users opposed the Ministry’s action. According to Bilaal Bulshaawi, Abdulkadir Ali Mohamud, who has 1.2 million followers on TikTok, the order won’t be carried out.
He declared, “It won’t work because the [internet] providers have the authority to permit this shut down. Because it’s the most popular application and clients use a lot of data, it’s not in the interests of the companies to halt the services.
Another active user of social media who wished to remain anonymous called the government’s decision a “ridiculous knee-jerk reaction to a serious issue.”
They decided on a blanket ban rather than developing guidelines on how to target immoral social media profiles, he claimed. A typical government would have built communication channels to target particular accounts and engaged the platforms in question. Numerous Somali TikTok stars who made a respectable career on the platform now need to search elsewhere.
In an interview with VOA Somali, Khalif defended the action, claiming the websites “hurt the state.”
He claimed that these websites were being abused, had led to security issues, were being used to undermine society and security, and encouraged immoral behavior.
“It is the right time to make this decision because there is such a great need to ban them.”
The number of persons using betting sites in Somalia was not disclosed by the government, but it was stated that they believe the sites are sending a significant amount of money back home.
Khalif claimed that wagering on 1XBET even serves to divert government troops engaged in defending the country.
We are aware of the use’s broad scope, he added.
He claimed that the country’s webmasters are unknown to the government.
“That kind of money is not Halal (permissible), no taxes are levied on it, no one knows who they are or where they come from, and it is illegal.”
Al-Shabab websites were supposed to be blocked by internet service providers last year, yet some of them are still accessible worldwide.
“The federal government of Somalia recognized as a criminal the promotion of violent acts by terrorists and the dissemination of their statements by any media or individual on social media. Any[one] who fails this resolve will be subject to legal action, according to the official statement at the time.
According to the Ministry of Communication and Technology, a public awareness campaign has been started to alert people about the risks associated with communication and the Internet, which make it simple to circulate false information that hurts innocent individuals or incites the public.