Social Media Crackdown: Somali Influencers Detained for Inciting Tribal Tensions

In Mog, Somali authorities nabbed 21 social media influencers for spreading clan-based insults and causing chaos online. Both men and women were rounded up by the Banadir Regional Police, their mugshots plastered on the Somali Police’s Facebook page.

These influencers, labeled troublemakers, are stewing in custody as court dates loom, while more troublemakers are on law enforcement’s radar for similar charges of “social discrimination.”

A pal of a detainee, a TikTok pro, spilled to BBC Somali Service that the arrests stemmed from clan-related jabs hurled on social media, capturing the Banadir regional government’s eye.

“The Somali police are gunning for other social media users stirring the pot and instigating trouble,” boasted the Banadir police force’s spokesperson.

Financial Gains Fuelling Clan-Oriented Content

Abdullahi Yare, a TikTok sensation in Italy, spilled that clan buzz on social media is all about the Benjamins. Sticking solely to Somali vibes on TikTok won’t rake in cash, he noted.

“Kids churn out clan-centric content to pocket some dough from TikTok. Just saying ‘I’m Somali’ won’t cut it,” he remarked.

According to Abdullahi, TikTok challenge winnings often roll in from backers rooting for rivals, fuming, and dissing other clans. “They demand rivalry and trash talk. Being silent and civil won’t cut it,” he explained.

Ruckus Over Clan Insults

Yet, many Somalis slam spreading clan insults for profit as unjustifiable. Abdulkadir Nur Hussein, aka Maah, a Somali writer active on social media, spotlighted the detrimental repercussions of such antics.

“Chasing cash isn’t a pass for spewing harmful rhetoric. These youths must stop,” Maah told the BBC.

Using hateful speech, like insults and threats, is part of what the Somali government denounces as immoral. Tribalism is a touchy subject in Somali society, sparking conflicts rooted in tribal splits.

Online Demeanour Versus Real-Life Actions

While they engage in online antics, Abdullahi Yare insists that he and his crew don’t truly buy into societal divides. “We chat, hang at cafes, travel together, share tea, coffee, and cash,” he shared.

Some influencers seize every chance to cash in by spewing venom, heedless of the harm it inflicts on the masses populating social media platforms.

In the past, the Somali government tried to boot TikTok and other platforms, citing risqué uploads, but the ban didn’t stick. The Somali police are primed to haul the arrestees to court on charges of spreading “bad vibes and violence.”

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