Accessibility links

Breaking News

Pakistan Blocks TikTok, Citing 'Immoral' Content

FILE - A youngster uses the social media app TikTok on his phone, at a market in Karachi, Pakistan, July 21, 2020.

Pakistan has blocked online short-video sharing platform TikTok on the grounds of "immoral/indecent" content for viewing in the majority-Muslim nation.

The state regulator said Friday that it had repeatedly instructed the platform to tighten its content monitoring to block access to the "unlawful" material.

"However, the application failed to fully comply with the instructions, therefore, directions were issued for blocking of TikTok application in the country," said the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, PTA.

The regulator defended the decision, saying the PTA, in a formal warning, had given "considerable time" to the online platform to respond and comply with the instructions.

FILE - A man opens social media app TikTok on his cellphone, in Islamabad, Pakistan, July 21, 2020.
FILE - A man opens social media app TikTok on his cellphone, in Islamabad, Pakistan, July 21, 2020.

"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," according to the PTA.

There was no immediate reaction from the popular online platform to the blocking of its service by Pakistani authorities.

Amnesty International slammed the ban on TikTok, saying that in the name of a campaign against vulgarity, people are being denied the right to express themselves online.

"The #TikTokBan comes against a backdrop where voices are muted on television, columns vanish from newspapers, websites are blocked and television ads banned," Amnesty said in a statement posted on Twitter.

TikTok, owned by China-based ByteDance, is also under pressure globally due to security and privacy concerns.

Neighboring India has already blocked access to the social media outlet, along with dozens of other apps developed by Chinese companies, citing cybersecurity concerns.

TikTok is also under scrutiny in other countries, including the United States, the biggest market by revenue for the company.

Dating apps ban

Last month, Pakistan blocked access to five dating apps for their delivery of "immoral/indecent content" in violation of the country’s laws.

The platforms include Tinder, Grindr, Tagged, Skout and SayHi.

The PTA, without elaborating on the sweeping ban, said that all five companies had failed to respond to its directive within the stipulated time, though it did not specify the timeframe.

Tinder is globally popular and owned by Match Group.

Grindr, which has a large following in the U.S., describes itself as a social network "for gay, bi, trans, and queer people."

Homosexuality and extra-marital relationships are outlawed in Pakistan.