TikTok is used by thousands of young Somalis. Photo Reuters 

By Charles Mgbolu

Some TikTok users believe they live in a world of limitless possibilities, where they are free to be anything and to do everything.

This is the captivating feature of TikTok, a place of escape for many, a digital universe of colours and memes where there are no fears, worries, challenges, or heartaches.

For others, TikTok is a platform for survival, a vehicle to showcase different sources of livelihood that help put food on the table.

But TikTok is increasingly coming under scrutiny, so much so that in some countries, this alternate digital universe has been suspended.

TikTok has grown in advertising revenues and number of users. Photo AP

Growing ban

For TikTok users in Somalia, the latest country to ban the platform, the decision has come as a surprise.

‘’The light in many homes will go off because of the TikTok ban,’’ says Abdullah Ali Mohammed in Mogadishu.

‘’We are calling on the government not to ban TikTok because that is where we get our daily bread,’’ he pleaded.

The Somali government was "working to protect the moral behaviour of the Somali community when using communication and internet tools,'' Somalia’s Communications and Technology Minister Jama Hassan Khalif said.

''The technological platform had increased bad practises,'' he added.

Business needs

Somali gold seller Halimo Hassan, however, argues that there should be some kind of consideration for people who earn a livelihood by selling their products on TikTok.

TikTok faces competition from other social media giants. Photo AA

‘’The ban on TikTok will have an impact on our business because we sell most of our items via TikTok. We advertise on TikTok, and people watch from all over the world. People from abroad and locals come to us through our TikTok adverts. And the people come to us with the pictures we posted on TikTok and then buy from us,’’ she argues.

According to the World Bank, more than 20% of Somalia's working-age population is without a job, with social media playing a critical role in helping stem the numbers.

However, there are some Somalis who argue that the ban on TikTok has very strong merits.

‘’ I am very happy with the ban of TikTok, and I would like the ban of other similar applications,’’ says Falis Ali, a Mogadishu resident.

Somalia’s recent ban extends beyond TikTok, with betting platform 1XBet also coming under the knife, accused of degrading moral values in society.

TRT Afrika and agencies