The Somali government recently announced a ban on several popular social media and communication platforms, including TikTok, Telegram, and 1XBet. According to Communications Minister Jama Hassan Khalif, the decision was made due to concerns over the spread of inappropriate content, blackmail, gambling promotion, and terrorist propaganda on these platforms.
- The ban went into effect on August 24 2023, after internet service providers in Somalia were given just under a week to comply and block access to TikTok, Telegram, and 1XBet. Minister Khalif stated that these platforms had been “misused to harm many individuals in recent years.” He argued that terrorists and other dangerous groups had utilised such apps to constantly spread horrific and false information to Somalis, especially the country’s youth.
This controversial move highlighted the debate over internet censorship and freedom of speech in the digital age. Supporters believed restricting certain sites and apps protected citizens, especially children, from harmful influences. However, critics argued it impeded free expression and access to information.
Somalia was not alone in such strict social media regulations. Other African nations like Senegal, Zambia, and Uganda have implemented various temporary social media and internet bans in recent years, typically during elections or large protests. Senegal blocked apps after protester deaths, and Zambia shut down the internet entirely during the 2021 elections. These actions suggested a concerning pattern of African governments limiting online freedoms and access to maintain control.
Social media and tech companies pushed back against such bans. For example, Telegram stated it worked diligently to remove dangerous terrorist content in Somalia. However, governments insisted such sites weren’t doing enough. For now, Somalis have lost access to hugely popular platforms like TikTok and Telegram, stripped of digital spaces where millions across the world connect and express themselves.