President Ruto to meet TikTok CEO amid concerns over explicit content

TikTok William Ruto

President William Ruto announced that he will have a meeting with TikTok's management on August 24, 2023.

Photo credit: Pool

President William Ruto has waded into the TikTok controversy, in which a petitioner wants the popular social media application banned on the grounds that it is contributing to the erosion of cultural and religious morals in society.

Speaking at State House Nakuru on Wednesday during the 95th Kenya Music Festival Winners State Concert, Ruto revealed that he plans to hold talks with the chief executive officer of TikTok on Thursday morning to agree on ways to "moderate content on the platform".

"Tomorrow, I will have a discussion with the CEO of TikTok so that we can agree on modalities of moderating content on the platform, I know we have had issues with TikTok in the recent past but I promise to resolve the matter," President Ruto revealed. 

The revelations come at a time when a petitioner, Bob Ndolo, the managing director of Bridget Connect Consultancy, has called on Members of Parliament to ban the use of TikTok.

 In the petition to the National Assembly, Ndolo has called on MPs to act quickly and ban the use of TikTok in the country, saying it exposes young people to explicit sexual content.

The petitioner laments that while the use of the application has gained popularity among the country's youth, the content shared on the platform is inappropriate, promoting violence, explicit sexual content, hate speech, vulgar language and offensive behaviour, which poses a serious threat to cultural and religious values.

Ndolo argues that the video application has been involved in serious privacy scandals in different parts of the world due to its ability to collect users' private information without consent. 

He suggested that the government should protect citizens from the negative effects of using the app or ban it altogether in Kenya.

Majority Leader Kimani Ichung'wa has already said that Parliament cannot preside over the banning of the app because it has created jobs for the majority of young people.

Mr Ichung'wa said that while the petitioner had valid concerns, his approach to a total ban was akin to fighting technology.

"The petitioner should come to seek how to regulate the use of the app, the age group and the content uploaded for a particular age to view, a total ban would kill the careers of many young people who are earning a living from it," Mr Ichung'wa said last week.

Nominated MP Irene Mayaka said banning the use of the app in Kenya would not solve the problems raised by the petitioner, saying that with applications such as the Virtual Private Network (VPN), one could still watch content in apps available in other countries.

She urged parents to monitor what their children consume on social media. Minority Leader and Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi echoed Ichung'wah's sentiments, saying the app should be regulated because it is a source of income and revenue for the government. "I believe that in this digital age, we as a country cannot afford to live in isolation or operate from an island, so it is foolhardy to consider banning another app," he said. 

"These platforms provide opportunities for our youth to find employment, especially for those who are able to create content. "

Lang'ata MP Phelix Odiwuor aka Jalang'o, a renowned content creator, has urged the government not to ban TikTok. According to the MP, the social media platform is where the current generation wants to belong and interact.

In an interview with a local television station last Friday, Jalang'o also noted that various social media platforms are where young people are making money from content creation."Don't ban Tik Tok.

The young people in their thousands believe that Tik Tok is where they make their money," he said on K24.

 The petition will be reviewed by the Public Petitions Committee, which will make a decision after 60 days.