William Ruto, President of Kenya attends an Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) meeting for the resolution of the crisis in Sudan in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on July 10, 2023.

William Ruto, President of Kenya attends an Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) meeting for the resolution of the crisis in Sudan in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on July 10, 2023.

Photo by State House of Kenya/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

TikTok Commits to Establish Kenyan Office for Enhanced Content Moderation and African Operations

TikTok expands into Kenya for content control and African growth, sparking debate amidst monetization talks, Parliament inquiry, and social media scrutiny.

In a new development aimed at addressing concerns over content moderation, TikTok has agreed to establish an office in Kenya. This decision comes amidst ongoing legal challenges related to content regulation within the Kenyan jurisdiction, a matter not explicitly addressed by President Ruto William during the recent meeting, which notably involved TikTok's collaboration with Majorel, a key stakeholder.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew reached this agreement following a meeting with President Ruto William on Thursday, August 24, 2023. This discussion took place at a time when the platform faces scrutiny for explicit content shared by its users, fueling debates about a potential ban.

President William Ruto expressed confidence that the establishment of a TikTok office in Kenya will ensure more rigorous content moderation aligned with community standards and will collaborate with the social media app closely in reviewing and monitoring its content, aiming to eliminate inappropriate and offensive material from the platform. This announcement follows the Kenyan parliament's decision to investigate TikTok after receiving a petition calling for the platform's prohibition due to allegations of promoting violence, explicit sexual content, hate speech, vulgar language, and offensive behavior.

Furthermore, President Ruto indicated via social media that Shou Zi Chew had committed to setting up an office in Kenya to oversee TikTok's operations across Africa. However, specific details regarding the arrangement and the commencement of operations remain undisclosed.

TikTok, a popular short-form video hosting service, boasts over one billion users worldwide, particularly among younger demographics. Despite its global appeal, TikTok has faced scrutiny, especially from Western nations, regarding its connections to China, though the company has consistently denied any undue influence from Beijing.

President Ruto had previously expressed his intention to discuss expanding monetization opportunities for Kenyans with Mr. Chew. Currently, African countries can only earn revenue indirectly from the platform, primarily through influencer marketing, affiliate marketing, or the promotion of their products and services. While interactions between President Ruto and other social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have occurred regarding monetization strategies, it remains unclear whether these discussions influenced YouTube and Facebook's decisions to enable monetization in Kenya.

In a notable outcome, discussions with YouTube led to Kenya becoming one of the few African countries with access to the platform's monetization program. Additionally, Kenya, alongside Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa, can monetize content through Facebook's Ad Breaks feature, allowing video creators to generate income from advertisements. However, this access was granted in 2019, during President Ruto's tenure as deputy president under Uhuru Kenyatta.

The establishment of a TikTok office in Kenya and the ongoing discussions surrounding content moderation and monetization mark significant developments in the platform's African operations, promising to shape its future engagement with the continent.