Popular TikToker, Roy Kanyi, received a message that would drastically change the course of social media life: his TikTok account had been banned.
A few months earlier, Kenya's beloved Christine Kendi had also faced a similar fate, despite having over 400 thousand followers. As their fans rallied in support, some people may have wondered what the big fuss was about. Did their phones stop working? Couldn't they just create new accounts? They were mistaken.
According to a 2022 survey, TikTok surpassed other social media platforms in popularity in Kenya, with 8 million users currently active on the app. That accounts for roughly eight percent of the population. Each day, countless Kenyans spend their time scrolling through a feed curated to their tastes.
However, behind every video lies a content creator who has poured their heart and soul into crafting the idea, executing it, and anticipating the audience's reception. An account ban is equivalent to being fired from a job, as it not only logs the creator out of their account but also deletes their entire catalogue of videos.
Understandably, a permanent account ban takes a toll on the content creator's mental health. Some may compare it to a renowned artist's masterpiece being burned or an author's opus magnum being erased from their computer.
Whenever a creator like Roy or Kendi announces that their account is now a thing of the past, the audience's first question is usually, "Why?"
Here are some reasons TikTok may use to justify banning an account:
TikTok enforces strict community guidelines that users must adhere to. Violations of these guidelines can result in a ban or suspension.
Examples of prohibited content include hate speech, graphic violence, nudity or sexual content, and dangerous or harmful behavior.
Posting content that infringes on the copyright or trademark of others can lead to a ban. This includes using music, images, or videos without obtaining permission from the rightful owner.
Engaging in repetitive posting of the same or similar content, leaving spammy comments, or participating in other spam-like behavior can result in a ban or suspension.
Some creators include pleas in their bio, asking their audience not to engage in spam-like activities such as excessive liking or commenting.
Creating a fake or misleading profile, impersonating someone else, or engaging in other forms of misrepresentation can lead to a ban.
Engaging in fraudulent or malicious activities, such as hacking or phishing, can result in a ban.
Additionally, TikTok's policy in Kenya requires users to be at least 18 years old. If the platform discovers that a user is underage, their account may face a ban or suspension.
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According to various individuals in the TikTok industry, the chances of recovering a banned account are slim to none.
However, there have been rare cases where a creator's audience in the UK appealed en masse, resulting in the reinstatement of their account.
For other content creators who have been struck with the unwelcome ban, all they can do is, in Roy's words, “accept that life happens and pick themselves back up”.