Somalia Bans TikTok, Telegram Over Terrorism Concerns

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Somalia’s government has banned social media platforms TikTok and Telegram and an online betting app, citing concerns that they are being used by terrorists to spread propaganda.

The ban comes ahead of a major military offensive against al-Shabaab, an Islamist militant group that has been waging a bloody insurgency against the central government in Mogadishu for over 15 years.

The Ministry of Communications and Technology ordered internet service providers to implement the ban by August 24, or face unspecified legal action.

“In a bid to accelerate the war and elimination of the terrorists who have shed the blood of the Somali people, the minister of communication and technology instructs companies that provide internet services to suspend TikTok, Telegram and 1XBET betting applications, which terrorists and groups responsible for spreading immorality use to spread graphic clips, photos and mislead society,” the ministry said in a statement.

The army has been waging an offensive against al-Shabaab in central Somalia since August last year, joining forces with local clan militias in an operation backed by African Union troops and US air strikes.

Al-Shabaab fighters were driven from the capital Mogadishu in 2011, but still control swathes of countryside and continue to wage deadly strikes on civilian, political and military targets despite the government offensive.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has vowed to rid the troubled Horn of Africa country of the jihadists and is expected to announce shortly a second phase of the offensive against them in southern Somalia.

The ban on TikTok and Telegram has been met with mixed reactions. Some people have welcomed the move, saying it is necessary to stop the spread of terrorist propaganda. Others have criticized the ban, saying it is an infringement on freedom of expression.

It remains to be seen how effective the ban will be in stopping al-Shabaab from using social media to spread its message. However, the government is clearly determined to take a tough stance against the group.

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