The news: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) issued a press statement, announcing a ban on the popular video-sharing app TikTok. A number of complaints have been received from various segments of the society, the regulatory body said in the statement.
Final warning: According to the press release, many of the complaints regarding TikTok maintained that the social media platform hosts ‘immoral’ and ‘indecent’ content. Earlier in July, PTA issued a warning to TikTok and asked to block or filter the ‘obscene’ content that did not comply with the country’s laws and cultural sensibilities. According to the authority, considerable time was given to the Chinese-origin platform to respond to the warning and implement measures to prevent ‘vulgar’ and ‘immoral’ content from being shared in Pakistan.
Response: Shortly after the notice, a TikTok spokesperson issued a statement saying that the social networking company prioritized the maintenance of a safe and positive in-app environment. It was also claimed that a number of technologies and moderation strategies are employed within the application to detect and review inappropriate content and implement suitable penalties including removing videos and banning accounts. It was also mentioned that TikTok was open to dialogue with authorities to enhance the security of its users.
Failure to comply: According to PTA, TikTok failed to comply with the instructions outlined by the authority and therefore it was decided that the application should be banned. PTA maintains that they are open to conversation and that they may review the ban if the application can come up with a mechanism to moderate the content that is posted on the video-sharing platform. TikTok has not released any comment on its ban in Pakistan so far.
Removal of videos: China’s ByteDance is a parent company to TikTok, which has been downloaded almost 39 million times in Pakistan. This makes it the third-most downloaded app over the past year second only to WhatsApp and Facebook, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower. According to TikTok’s recent transparency report, it routinely removes content that violates the community guidelines. Pakistan is among the top five countries from where the majority of these videos originated. Over 3 million videos removed had been uploaded by users in Pakistan, while the United States and India also contributed to the inappropriate content.