ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday blocked social media app TikTok for failing to filter out “immoral and indecent” content, the country’s telecommunication authority said in a statement. “In view of number of complaints from different segments of the society against immoral and indecent content on the video sharing application TikTok, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has issued instructions for blocking of the application,” said the statement that confirmed an earlier Reuters report on the looming ban.
Meanwhile, Information and Technology Minister Syed Aminul Haque said the block would be lifted if the app carried out the required cleanup. TikTok will be unblocked in Pakistan if the platform removes “vulgar” content, he said.
The Chinese app was banned for failing to remove “immoral” content after being given time to comply with instructions from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
It did not say at the time what actions it would take if TikTok did not comply. The decision to block the app has caused a debate, with experts warning that it would have an adverse economic impact.
One of Pakistan’s most popular TikTok celebrities, Hareem Shah, said the ban would affect those who made a living from the platform. “If we look at TikTok, there are many poor (people) who have taken to this platform as a means of livelihood,” she added. “Their means of livelihood has been taken away … This should not happen.”
According to political analysts, blocking social media platforms made Pakistan look like a country that was unenthusiastic about allowing innovative disruptive technology companies to grow.
In sharp reaction to the government’s decision of banning TikTok, a video-sharing social networking service, social media celebrity Hareem Shah on Saturday slammed the restriction and called it a move to divert the public’s attention from real issues, such as wheat flour crisis.
“As you all know that TikTok has been banned and the reason that’s been given for it is behaya’i (vulgarity or indecent content). I think that’s not a solid reason. It’s an entertainment app. If there’s criminal content on it then the administrators [those who run it] of the app block it themselves,” the popular TikToker said.
“Instead of banning it, they [the government] should identify those who are involved in criminal or vulgar acts so that they could be punished and behaya’i is eliminated. In the US they banned the app by giving a solid reason, which was their national security. If there is a national security issue in Pakistan, then it’s right. But vulgarity is not a reason. I will give you an example: when your fingernails grow big you cut your nails, not the entire hand,” she maintained.
In reply to a question, she said TikTok brought out talents of people; how could one snatch that from them. According to her, behaya’i is something that makes a person move away from imaan. Behaya’i contains many things.
Answering a question, she said behaya’i committed by man or woman, either way, was condemnable. Women compared to men have become the focus of attention more if something bad happens. “Who is raping women? Men. This is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and [yet] a woman can’t go out with her children. Why can’t you talk about that? What recently happened on Motorway, when a woman was raped, was done by men.
Leading Pakistani TikToker Janat Mirza has voiced her opinion over the recent ban on the social app, reported Express Pk. Surprisingly, Mirza has supported the ban on TikTok in Pakistan. “I, myself, wanted a ban on TikTok in Pakistan, but it should not be on a permanent basis,” she told various news publications.
In a telephone conversation from Japan, where Mirza is visiting currently, she added, “I am in Japan and I have received news from Pakistan about the ban on TikTok.” She went on to add that many bases their livelihood with the app, and we have seen a rise in new talent as well. However, some people shared substandard videos on it. At the moment, Mirza reiterated, the ban is necessary but SOPs should be formed over the content and videos should be monitored. After needed precautions, the ban should be lifted. “Videos should be allowed to be broadcast after a formal code of conduct,” Mirza said.
The social media star added that there should be a team in Pakistan to monitor TikTok. This will help in developing talent.