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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Pakistan Bans TikTok Due to ‘Immoral and Indecent’ Content

Negotiations on the future of TikTok in the US are still going and may still result in a national ban. Also, Pakistan has announced today that it is in the process of banning the application. But the reasons are different from the US ones.

TechCrunch has reported earlier today that Pakistan’s Telecommunication Authority

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“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.”

Pakistan is a majority Muslim nation and it is a neighbor to India that back in June banned Tiktok after conflicts with China. TikTok had become a massive hit among users of India with more than 200M active users. This makes TikTok the biggest single market. It is a bit surprising to see that TikTok also had been on the rise even in Pakistan. As Pakistan’s active audience is a lot smaller with just 35% of the nation of 212M citizens can have internet access.

Also, it will not be as important as a strike to TikTok’s numbers around the world. However, still, it is a new concern for the app.

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Many different questions have been asked about the potential of TikTok to expose users, especially younger users to questionable content. The application was banned in India temporarily last year after concerns about inappropriate and pornographic videos. That did eventually lead to removing more than 6M videos from the app and applying new measurements to enable the restoration in the country.

Also, earlier, TikTok got fined a $5.7M by the FTC in the USA this year in a settlement about allegations that it had collected personal information illegally from children under 13 years old, and it’s also now under investigations in France after some concerns around the measurements to protect children. Authorities in the UK have also made investigations in the same matter.

Such concerns are of course relevant. A report revealed by the NYT in August showed that more than 1/3 of TikTok daily users in the USA are 14 years old or younger. Link this with past concerns about the moderation process plus the demotion of content posted by users deemed too poor or too ugly. And it doesn’t draw a good image of the application and its measurements to make sure the protection of young users.

With these factors, Pakistan’s decision to ban the application is not a surprise, yet as noted, it is a new mark against TikTok’s name, that will taint the brand further, and can at the end lead to a stronger push for more actions against the application in more countries.

Of course, it’s still a controversial platform, it is a young user base, plus its focus on dancing, can simply lend the app more concerning and suggestive actions as uploaders chase engagements. That is before you can even think about the potential relations with the Chinese government, and the application’s requirements to share the data of users with the CCP.

Also, though TikTok may not lose a massive number of users after Pakistan’s ban, the implications are significant and will add more opposition against it.

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