Content creators, relying on the platform for their livelihoods, decry Somalia’s TikTok ban. The government justifies it, though, alleging that TikTok, Telegram and 1XBet aid terrorists and groups responsible for spreading immorality.
Mogadishu, SOMALIA. By Yahya:
Bilaal Bulshaawi, self-branded “president of Somali TikTokers”, told the BBC, “I drive a car and relish my luxurious lifestyle. I explore various Somali regions for tourism.” Bilaal, boasting 1.3 million followers, generates income by advertising businesses, earning between $500 and $1000 weekly.
Hafsa Hilkas, who amassed over half a million followers in just three months, initiated her online perfume business, gaining financial independence and moving out of her family home. She fears the ban will rob her of her independence.
Some users, like Sakariye Mohamed, emphasise that TikTok offers opportunities for young people grappling with employment challenges in Somalia’s difficult environment. “It serves as a source of income for both educated and non-educated youth. It also diverts young people from the agony of unemployment,” he told the BBC.
Not everyone is against the ban
However, not everyone opposes the ban. Student Samira Mohamed expressed concerns regarding TikTok content, stating, “It undermines people’s values, and more girls are opting to remove their hijabs.” She raised issues related to explicit content and blackmail.
Content creators like Bilaal and Hafsa may transition to alternative platforms. However, building an audience from scratch demands time and effort. The impending ban leaves content creators anxious about their financial future while Somalia engages in a debate over the pros and cons of this controversial decision. As the prohibition formally took effect on Thursday, uncertainty prevails regarding its impact on their lives and businesses.
Puntland refused the implementation
The State of Puntland has refused to implement the directive, claiming that the government in Mogadishu cannot force it on them. “Communications companies do not have to carry out and can not carry out orders from Mogadishu,” Puntland’s Minister of Information Mohamud Ayidi Dirir said.
The Minister emphasised that Somalia is a federal country, where each Federal Member State (FMS) has different laws. These laws then precede the federal ones, according to Mr Dirir. Similar deviation from the Federal Government’s controversial regulation confirmed Somaliland, a break-away state in northern Somalia.
Meanwhile, experts noticed that the ban on TikTok, 1XBet and Telegram is unconstitutional. The Federal Government’s decision to curb the dissemination of what it called ‘indecent content’ and terrorist propaganda by banning some of the popular internet platforms does not have support in the country’s Constitution.