Nairobi – The individual who had originally sought a ban on TikTok in Kenya due to concerns over inappropriate content has adjusted their approach and is now advocating for the application’s regulation through strict guidelines.
Appearing before the National Assembly Public Petition, Bob Ndolo, the Executive Director General of Bridge Consultancy, amended the petition to focus on regulation after receiving input from various stakeholders regarding the App’s usage.
This change comes shortly after President William Ruto held discussions with TikTok’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Shou Zi Chew, where they reached an agreement on moderation measures to reduce negative content on the video-sharing application.
“We have received numerous calls from TikTok users, and that’s why we decided to shift our focus towards advocating for stricter regulations of the App to safeguard national security and protect young people from inappropriate content,” stated Ndolo.
Ndolo emphasized that they were not pressured into altering their initial petition, which had called for a TikTok ban, following President Ruto’s meeting with TikTok management, who pledged to moderate content on the global App.
“We are aware of the conversation between the President and TikTok CEO, but we learned about it through the media. We were not involved in any way; our only meeting was with TikTok management from South Africa. We have not received any calls from the State House,” he clarified.
Ezekiel Mutua, the Chief Executive Officer of the Music and Copyright Society of Kenya, who supports the petition, expressed concern about the significant adverse effects of the App due to its unregulated content.
Mutua urged Members of Parliament to take immediate action to protect Kenyans from the negative impacts of the App, which has exposed children to nudity and profanity.
“Unregulated social media platforms serve as conduits for the erosion of our moral values. We must not forget the moral fabric of our nation, especially when it comes to children,” he emphasized.
MCSK CEO also stressed the need for strict regulations to prevent social media users from generating content that undermines the country’s social fabric.
“This type of content normalizes inappropriate behavior, obscenity, nudity, and immorality. The App even normalizes disrespect toward our national leaders. It might seem harmless, but it’s how we normalize criminality and violence as a way of life,” he remarked.
Collins Osewe, an advocate from Bridges Consultancy, argued that the TikTok App had violated essential provisions of the constitution and various acts that call for restrictions on who can join the global App.
“We need a regulatory platform that can filter out inappropriate, offensive, illegal, and unlawful content propagated by any TikToker. TikTok, as it stands, is accessible to all, but we require regulation to potentially turn it into a voluntary members’ club for adults rather than a free-for-all platform,” Osewe suggested.
Clinical Psychologist Professor Ndungu Ikenye called for regulations on the TikTok App, warning that uncontrolled content could lead to increased mental health issues, especially among minors.
“We urge you, Members of Parliament, to act as guardians of our values, as the current pop culture trends pose a danger. Without those who protect our children, mental health issues will continue to rise,” Ikenye stated.
TikTok management has pledged to collaborate with Kenya in reviewing and monitoring its content. President William Ruto has stated that this move will ensure that the platform’s content aligns with agreed-upon guidelines.
In a virtual meeting with President Ruto, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew committed to moderating content to meet community standards.
This development signifies that inappropriate or offensive content will be removed from the platform. Chew also agreed to establish a Kenyan Office to coordinate operations on the continent and hire more Kenyans to work for the platform.