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Social Commerce in Africa and Other Issues on Social Commerce

I shall be on a panel at the Seamless Payments, Fintech, Retail, Ecommerce Conference in Sandton on 19-20 Sept ( addressing Social Commerce and therefore it was interesting to read a recent Reuters Institute Digital News survey which shows that Kenyans represent 54% of TikTok usage for any purpose and 29% for news. Thailand comes in second place and SA holds the third spot with 50% for general use and 22% for news. The report also shows that TikTok is gaining ground in the distribution of news particularly among younger audiences, while Facebook, which has long held the top spot, is losing ground. Nevertheless, TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat users tend to pay more attention to celebrities and social media influencers than media companies when it comes to News topics, in sharp contrast to Facebook and Twitter (“X”) users. These legacy social networks still attract most attention and lead conversations.

Meanwhile, in the USA, amid debates surrounding children’s privacy and safety online, the topic of age verification has been raised by regulators. The State of Utah passed a law this year requiring social media platforms to restrict access to minors without parental permission, and Congress and multiple states are considering legislation that would similarly require platforms to verify users’ ages. This legislation raises questions about how mandatory age verification will impact social media platforms and their users. How does age verification for minors work? How accurate are various methods of age verification, including using artificial intelligence (AI) to estimate age? How feasible is it to implement those methods on social media, and what are the privacy implications? Readers will note that the definition of “a minor” is not consistent – in SA the POPIA defines minors as youngsters below the age of 18, but in the EU a minor is someone under the age of 13. Therefore age verification will differ considerably.



Alastair Tempest

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