TikTok ban: Divided views as MPs want content regulated

Members of Parliament on Tuesday, August 15, held divided opinions over a motion proposing a ban on the social media application, Tiktok.

The motion was moved by a petitioner, Bob Ndolo, who wants the popular video-sharing app banned for its inappropriate content.

"While it has gained popularity among the youth, the content being shared on the platform is inappropriate promoting violence, explicit sexual content, violence, hate speech, vulgar language, and offensive behavior which is a serious threat to the cultural and religious values in Kenya," Ndolo stated in his petition.

Ndolo said that the video application has been caught up in serious privacy scandals in different parts of the world over its ability to collect users' private information without consent. He suggested that the government should safeguard citizens from the negative effects arising from the use of the app or altogether ban it in Kenya.

Majority Leader and Kikuyuy MP Kimani Ichung'wah who admitted having the app on his phone suggested that the content on the platform should be regulated instead of banning it.

"There is nothing criminal or evil about being on Tiktok. As much as I feel what Ndolo says, there could be an element of abuse of these apps. But we cannot as a House preside over the ban of any app. We cannot fight with technology," argued Ichung'wa.

He said that the petitioner should have sought alternative means by petitioning the relevant committee to help in regulating the content of videos uploaded on the platform.

Minority Leader and Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi held a similar opinion as Ichung'wah, saying that the app should be regulated because it provides a source of income and revenue for the government.

"I am of the view that in this digital age, we cannot as a country afford to live in isolation or operate from some island therefore it will be foolhardy to contemplate banning any other app," he said.

"These platforms provide avenues for our youths to get employment, especially for those who are able to create content."

Wandayi said that the government should instead show support by opening more digital spaces for the youth to create employment opportunities.

On his part, Ndhiwa MP Martin Owino suggested that as much as the platform creates a source of income, people should think about the well-being of teenagers using the app.

"The impact of TikTok is yet to be realized, as much as they are business oriented we have to think of our children. Most parents or children can't regulate like we do because of the inabilities they have," Owino posed.

Owino said that the government might fail to ban the app completely but it should be regulated for the sake of minors.

"As much as the advantages are being thrown here and there, children who are not supervised well spend more time on the app and fail their exams. The addictive elements are also worrying," Owino added.

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa shared similar sentiments saying that the content posted on all social media platforms should be regulated.