Pakistan banned TikTok on Thursday, as a high court pointed to “immoral and objectionable” content on the short-video platform.
That’s quite an indictment… Perhaps the country’s prime minister was just tired of being skewered by teens on the internet.
Chinese Ally, Content Enemy
ByteDance-owned TikTok has been on the rise amongst youngsters everywhere – or “on fleek”, as they’d put it. And Pakistan is no exception. According to TechCrunch, the country’s user base had surged to 33 million as of last month. That’s nearly a third of the country’s 100 million internet users.
But popularity isn’t everything. Cybersecurity concerns regarding ByteDance’s ties to the Chinese government have already prompted a TikTok ban in India and the proposal of a ban in the U.S. Still, as an “iron brother” ally of China, Pakistan hasn’t lost sleep over cybersecurity.
TikTok’s content, on the other hand, has posed a problem for the Middle Eastern nation:
- Prime Minister Imran Khan first launched a crusade against the app last fall. It led to a ban in October that lasted a mere 10 days. What did last were new digital laws demanding that companies remove offensive content, including that which threatens the “integrity, security and defense of Pakistan.”
- And this week, Qaiser Rashid Khan, chief justice of the Peshawar High Court (akin to a federal court in America), brought out the ban-hammer for TikTok once again. In announcing Thursday’s decision, he said “TikTok videos are peddling vulgarity in society.”
Journalists Aren’t Buying It: One prominent Pakistani media personality previously said the government’s issues with TikTok actually stem from TikTokers “poking fun of the Great Leader.”
Revenge Of The Nerds: The ban is already facing pushback from some tech heavy-hitters. The Asia Internet Coalition, which features the likes of Facebook, Google, and Twitter, has called Pakistan’s new digital laws “draconian.”