Pakistan bans TikTok for 'immoral' content

The ban was ordered after TikTok failed to comply with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority's conditions for keeping the app available.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Friday issued instructions to block controversial video-sharing platform TikTok.

In a statement, the PTA said the ban followed a number of complaints about the type of content shared on the app.

"In view of a number of complaints from different segments of the society against immoral/indecent content on the video-sharing application TikTok, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has issued instructions for blocking of the application," it wrote.

The PTA said after considering the complaints, as well as the nature of the content being "consistently" posted, it issued a final notice to the application.

The watchdog said it gave TikTok considerable time to respond and comply with its instructions for "development of effective mechanism for proactive moderation of unlawful online content".

"However, the application failed to fully comply with the instructions, therefore, directions were issued for blocking of TikTok application in the country," it continued.

"TikTok has been informed that the Authority is open for engagement and will review its decision subject to a satisfactory mechanism by TikTok to moderate unlawful content."

In late August, a video of a man dying by suicide was posted on Facebook. The graphic video spread across other platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube, but it continued to appear on TikTok weeks later as the app struggled to remove the horrific content.

The PTA had at the time asked TikTok to "block the vulgar, indecent, and immoral content for viewership in Pakistan".

It asked the platform to put in place stronger content monitoring and moderation mechanisms so that unlawful material could not be accessed or viewed within Pakistan.

It also asked similar requests of Youtube, demanding the Facebook-owned site to "block vulgar, indecent, immoral, nude, and hate speech content for viewing in Pakistan".

"PTA has done so keeping in view the extremely negative effects of indecent/immoral/nude content available on Youtube and to prevent repugnant discord due to the presence of hate speech and sectarian material," the PTA said in August.

In September, the authority asked YouTube once again to block such content.

"The platform has been directed to put in place an effective content monitoring and moderation mechanism to expeditiously respond to PTA's requests for removal of illegal and harmful online content," the PTA wrote.

"PTA remains committed to facilitate and support Youtube to excel in Pakistan's digital market, while remaining compliant with local laws, societal norms, and Youtube's own community standards."

US President Donald Trump in August claimed that apps developed in China are a threat to national security, making an executive order to ban TikTok alongside WeChat. That ban was later blocked by the US district court, however.

India has also banned TikTok.


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