- Lawmakers in Kenya have called on the country’s Public Petitions Committee to investigate the popular social media firm TikTok.
- This is after they received a petition alleging that TikTok use leads to mental health issues such as depression.
- The committee is expected to deliver a report in 60 days.
With over one billion users worldwide, Chinese social media platform TikTok is being investigated in Kenya, one of Africa’s most technologically advanced nations, over allegations that it could be harmful to the Kenyan public.
Lawmakers in the East African nation are looking into the ByteDance platform after receiving a petition from a “private citizen” that TikTok should be banned for being “inappropriate.” According to Bloomberg, Speaker Moses Wetang’ula explained that the social media was problematic because it allegedly spreads ” “violence, explicit sexual content, hate speech, vulgar language and offensive behaviour, which is a serious threat to the cultural and religious values of Kenya.”
“The petitioner is concerned that if the platform is not prohibited in Kenya, the app’s addictive nature would lead to a decline in academic performance and ascend in mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and sleep deprivation among the youth,” Wetang’ula added.
Kenya’s Public Petitions Committee has been directed by the speaker to look into TikTok and its impact on the public in Kenya. The report back is expected in the next 60 days when the issue will be debated or thrown out depending on recommendations.
This would not be the first time that TikTok roused the interest of lawmakers and governments. In March the CEO of TikTok Shou Chew stoode before US Congress and was asked to explain the company’s alleged ties to the Chinese government.
TikTok was also alleged to be harvesting data from American users of the app, and faced bans in some US states, including Montana.
In January a group of public schools in Seattle, Washington set out to take TikTok, as well as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and others to court alleging that these platforms are creating a “mental health crisis among America’s youth.”
An independent study by the University of Arkansas found a significant link between social media and the possibility of developing depression among users, no matter what personality type they have. The study highlighted TikTok and Twitter as especially damaging because of their younger user bases.