Somalia’s government has barred the popular social media platforms TikTok and Telegram, as well as the online betting site 1XBET, alleging their exploitation by “terrorists” for propaganda. The move aligns with the government’s upcoming military push against the al-Shabaab Islamist group, which has waged a 15-year insurgency against Mogadishu’s central government.
Issuing a statement, the Ministry of Communication and Technology directed internet providers to block TikTok, Telegram, and 1XBET by August 24th. Non-compliance could lead to undisclosed legal actions.
The government claims these platforms serve “terrorists” and “immorality-promoting groups” disseminating violent content and misinformation. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is determined to eliminate the jihadist threat.
“To intensify the fight against the terrorists causing immense suffering, the Communication and Technology Minister instructed Internet providers to halt TikTok, Telegram, and 1XBET. These platforms, used by terrorists and groups promoting immoral conduct, circulate graphic content and misguide society,” the Ministry’s statement noted.
The government’s campaign against al-Shabaab, affiliated with al-Qaeda, began in the previous year, with military collaboration alongside local militias, African Union forces, and U.S. airstrikes. Although al-Shabaab was expelled from Mogadishu in 2011, it retains control over vast rural areas, executing lethal assaults on civilian, political, and military targets despite government efforts.
Significantly, al-Shabaab insurgents have employed TikTok and Telegram to disseminate activity details such as videos, press releases, and leader interviews. In 2022, the government ordered ISPs to block al-Shabaab-related websites, but some platforms remained globally accessible.