Caixin
Oct 10, 2020 06:11 AM
BUSINESS & TECH

Pakistan Bans TikTok over ‘Immoral and Indecent’ Content

Pakistan blocked TikTok for failing to filter out “immoral and indecent” content.
Pakistan blocked TikTok for failing to filter out “immoral and indecent” content.

Pakistan banned Chinese social media app TikTok for circulation of content that it deemed “immoral and indecent,” making it the latest country to restrict the wildly popular video-sharing app.

The decision followed a number of complaints from different segments of society, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said Friday in a statement.

Pakistan’s ban was particularly bad news for TikTok as the nation has been one of Beijing’s closet allies. Pakistan’s neighbor India banned the app in June along with dozens of other Chinese apps, citing cyber security concerns. It faces a ban in the U.S. if ByteDance doesn’t seal a deal with Oracle or another American buyer for TikTok’s U.S. operations.

ByteDance Ltd., the Beijing-based owner of TikTok, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The PTA said it gave TikTok considerable time to revamp its content, but the app failed to fully comply with the authority’s instructions. TikTok was informed that the regulator is open to engagement and will review its decision subject to a satisfactory mechanism by TikTok to moderate unlawful content, the PTA said.

TikTok is the third-most downloaded app on Apple’s App Store in Pakistan and the fifth-most downloaded on Google Play, according to data research firm SensorTower.

In the second half of 2020, TikTok took down more than 6.45 million videos in Pakistan, 73% more than in the same period in 2019, according to a transparency report published by the company. The company said the removed videos include illegal activities, adult nudity and sexual activities, violent content, suicide and self-harm, and hate speech.

The company said in the transparency report that TikTok received four information requests from the Pakistani government in the first half of 2020, involving 40 accounts and 129 videos that were removed or restricted at the request of the government.

The U.S. government appealed a judge’s ruling Thursday that prevented the Trump administration from imposing a ban on TikTok. In August, U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order that effectively would ban the app unless TikTok sells its U.S. operations.

ByteDance negotiated a deal with Oracle and Walmart. The transaction has not been completed. A recent change in China’s tech export policy suggested Beijing would need to sign off on any accord to sell TikTok.

Contact reporter Denise Jia (huijuanjia@caixin.com) and editor Bob Simison (bobsimison@caixin.com)

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