Tuesday 27 October 2020

Pakistan blocks TikTok for ‘immoral’ content

In July, the telecom regulator of Pakistan had issued a 'final warning' to the app company ByteDance for explicit content posted on the platform

Pakistan today announced it was blocking social media App TikTok for failing to filter out “immoral” content. Pakistan Telecommunication Authority blocked the Chinese app TikTok “in view of a number of complaints from different segments of the society against immoral/indecent content on the video-sharing platform”.

“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,” said the PTA.

Geo News of Pakistan on 9 October reported that the company had failed to fully comply with instructions for the development of an effective mechanism for proactive moderation of unlawful online content.

The authority had received a “number of complaints from different segments of the society” over the videos, it said.

Some users in Pakistan, a country of about 75 million internet users, said the TikTok app and its website had already been inaccessible to them for some days.

In July, the telecommunications regulator of Pakistan had issued a “final warning” to the short-form video app over explicit content posted on the platform.

TikTok, owned by China-based ByteDance, has been caught in a firestorm globally due to security and privacy concerns. India blocked the mobile application on 29 June. The Chinese company faces scrutiny in countries from Australia to the United States.

Prior to the ban, TikTok identified India — where it had amassed over 200 million monthly active users — as its biggest market outside of China. Like in India, TikTok is immensely popular in Pakistan, said Danish Khalid, an executive at Bykea, a Karachi-headquartered ride-hailing startup.

TikTok has not reacted to the development as yet.

The decision follows Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s keen interest in the issue, an official in Pakistan told Reuters, adding that Khan had directed the telecom authorities to make all efforts to block vulgar content in the conservative Islamic country.

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