Another surprise is coming for TikTok users in Pakistan. The country is banning ByteDance short-videos platform for the second time. This time alleging objectionable, immoral, content. Previously, the app had a brief 10-day shutdown. TikTok was banned in October last year for hosting “immoral” and “indecent” videos, but the company was able to assure the Pakistani government that videos would be moderated “following societal norms and the laws of Pakistan,”. The app resumed operations a week and a half later the shutdown. Apparently, the platform didn’t make the necessary changes or at least didn’t satisfy the Pakistani government. Starting today, March 11, service providers need to immediately block access to the TikTok App.
In respectful compliance to the orders of the Peshawar High Court, PTA has issued directions to the service providers to immediately block access to the TikTok App. During the hearing of a case today, the PHC has ordered for the blocking of App.
— PTA (@PTAofficialpk) March 11, 2021
TikTok is a huge phenomenon in the whole world and Pakistan isn’t an exception. ByteDance’s platform has tens of millions of users in the country. Now, these users will lose access to the social media app.
For now, it’s unclear why TikTok’s legality in Pakistan is again in question and whether a video or trend on the app is the culprit. Apparently, it still involves “immoral” and “indecent” content. According to an Al Jazeera report, Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Qaiser Khan accused TikTok of hosting content “unacceptable for Pakistani society”. According to another report, Khan said the platform has a huge engagement with “peddling vulgarity”. He ordered the ban take effect immediately during a hearing on Thursday.
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“TikTok is built upon the foundation of creative expression, with strong safeguards in place to keep inappropriate content off the platform,” TikTok said in a statement to The Verge. “In Pakistan, we have grown our local-language moderation team, and have mechanisms to report and remove the content in violation of our community guidelines. We look forward to continuing to serve the millions of TikTok users and creators in Pakistan who have found a home for creativity and fun.”
This is just another chapter in TikTok’s journey to establish its presence across the world. The platform endured several contentious government bans and other restrictions around the world. The most notable case was a countrywide ban in India last summer. Moreover, we also saw the Trump administration’s hamfisted attempt to force the company to partner with a US tech firm to monitor its bonds with the Chinese government.
The application is also facing serious opposition in and around Southeast Asia. Governments there have extended existing control over the media to the video-centric social network using laws and regulations. Just like Pakistan, most of these governments are also accusing the app of spreading obscene or immoral content.
For now, TikTok users in Pakistan will need to wait and see if the platform will contest the decision.