President William Ruto announced plans Wednesday to open talks with TikTok aimed at increasing content moderation on the popular social media platform.
Speaking at the Kenya Music Festival Winners’ State Concert in Nakuru, Ruto said he will speak Thursday with TikTok’s global CEO Shou Zi Chew to establish a collaborative approach to content moderation within the platform, aiming to diminish the presence of harmful content and maximize the potential for monetization.
“Tomorrow morning, I will be speaking to the global CEO of TikTok so that we can agree on a mechanism to moderate content in their space so that we can reduce the negative content and leverage on the monetisation.” Ruto said.
The president’s remarks come after members of parliament received a petition this month calling for a ban on TikTok in Kenya over concerns about inappropriate content, privacy violations and mental health issues.
Filed by Bob Ndolo, executive officer of the Bridget Connect Consultancy, the petition urges the National Assembly to intervene and prohibit the app in the country. Ndolo claims TikTok lacks regulation by the Communications Authority of Kenya and has been involved in several privacy scandals.
National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula read the petition in parliament on Aug. 15, highlighting the petitioner’s view that the app is addictive in nature and fails to protect Kenyan youth from harmful content.
“The petitioner decries that while it has gained popularity among the youth in Kenya, the content that is being shared on the platform is inappropriate thus promoting violence, explicit sexual content, hate speech, vulgar language, offensive behaviour which is a serious threat to the petitioner avers that in Kenya, the internet application is not regulated by the Communications Authority of Kenya leading to the failure to remove or block content deemed to be inappropriate or offensive,” Wetangula said.
TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has come under increasing scrutiny globally for its data collection practices and content moderation policies. With a monthly user base over 1 billion worldwide, it is one of the most popular social media apps among teenagers and young adults.
Launched in 2016, TikTok entered the Kenyan market in 2018 and has quickly gained traction, especially among the country’s large youth population. Critics say its algorithm promotes divisive and inappropriate videos to users, including dangerous viral challenges.