Pakistan rescinds TikTok ban
By Salman Masood
Just 10 days after introducing a ban on TikTok, Pakistani authorities said Monday that they were reversing the decision after receiving assurance from the Chinese-owned social media platform that it would moderate content according to local laws.
“TikTok is being unlocked after assurance from management that they will block all accounts repeatedly involved in spreading obscenity and immorality,” the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, the national regulator, said in a statement.
Pakistan banned the app Oct. 9 after officials said they had received a slew of complaints about indecent content. The app was functioning again Monday.
TikTok, with its lip-syncing teenagers and meme-heavy videos, has faced problems in several countries for varying reasons. The Trump administration has attempted to block the app over privacy fears, India has prohibited the service as part of rising tensions between New Delhi and Beijing, and public decency concerns have led to occasional bans in places like Bangladesh and Indonesia.
TikTok has 20 million users in Pakistan, but conservatives in the country say that the app has been overtaken by vulgar song-and-dance numbers and memes. Officials said that a big reason behind the ban was the sexualization of underage girls and that TikTok was given several warnings to regulate its content before the ban was imposed.
But others said the Pakistani authorities’ move to lock the app was also intended to limit criticism of the government, which is struggling with a sagging economy and facing growing opposition. In recent months, the app has had a substantial increase in content that caricatured or mocked the policies of the governing party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. Officials have denied any political undertones to the ban.
ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, said in a statement Monday that it welcomed the decision.
“At TikTok, we’re committed to enforcing our community guidelines and complying with local laws in all markets in which we operate, as these are pillars of our work to promote a safe and positive community online,” the statement said.
The decision to allow TikTok to resume operations in Pakistan was widely welcomed by the app’s users, too, and finance analysts said it would increase investor confidence.
“The expedited reversal of the ban also goes to show that ByteDance is very much invested in the Pakistan market,” said Saif Ali, a marketing executive.