Again, Pakistan Blocks TikTok

File photo:  A woman watches a video of Egyptian influencer Haneen Hossam, who was sentenced to two years in jail on charges of violation public morals, on the video-sharing app TikTok in Egypt’s capital Cairo on July 28, 2020. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

 

The popular TikTok video-sharing app was blocked Wednesday in Pakistan for a fourth time because of “inappropriate content”, the country’s telecommunication regulator said. 

The Chinese-owned site has fought a series of legal battles with religious activists and authorities in the conservative Muslim nation, and was shut down for two days earlier this month on the order of a provincial court.

Freedom of speech advocates have long criticised creeping government censorship and control of Pakistan’s internet and media.

“The action has been taken due to continuous presence of inappropriate content on the platform and its failure to take such content down,” the telecoms authority said in a statement.

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This photo, taken on July 2, 2021, shows the TikTok logo displayed on a mobile phone screen. Taiwo Adeshina/Channels Television.
This photo, taken on July 2, 2021, shows the TikTok logo displayed on a mobile phone screen. Taiwo Adeshina/Channels Television.

 

A local TikTok representative did not immediately comment.

The app has a huge fan base in Pakistan, where many people use it to market and sell goods online.

But its critics in the deeply conservative Muslim nation say it promotes vulgarity and LGBTQ content.

In June, TikTok said it had removed more than six million videos available to Pakistan users in just three months following complaints from officials and ordinary users.

Around 15 percent of the videos removed were taken down because of “adult nudity and sexual activities”, the company said.

Officials have previously asked YouTube to block content they deem objectionable, and several dating apps are prohibited.

AFP

Pakistan Suspends TikTok Again As Court Hears Obscenity Petition

In this file photo illustration taken on November 21, 2019, the logo of the social media video-sharing app Tiktok is displayed on a tablet screen in Paris. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP).

 

Pakistan authorities on Thursday again blocked the popular TikTok social media app after a court ruling on a private citizen’s petition that accused the company of promoting obscenity.

“The TikTok ban is effective from today,” a representative of the company told AFP, and users confirmed they could not access their accounts or view the short video clips that have made the app one of the most popular in the country.

“It is absurd,” said Imdad Kazmi, studying mass communication at a government university.

“It affects thousands of people who promote their products, fashion and other goods. The ban is not a solution at all.”

Chinese-owned TikTok has been shut down twice before in Pakistan because of alleged “indecent” content — most recently in March, after which the company pledged to better moderate content.

It said Wednesday it had removed more than six million videos from its Pakistan service in the past three months alone — around 15 percent featuring “adult nudity and sexual activities”.

A spokesman said the content was removed as a result of both user and government requests.

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File photo:  A woman watches a video of influencer Mowada al-Adham, who was sentenced to two years in jail on charges of violation public morals, on the video-sharing app TikTok in Egypt’s capital Cairo on July 28, 2020. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

 

In the Muslim nation, posting videos in Western clothes that reveal too much skin is taboo, and is often met with abuse.

Earlier this month, small anti-TikTok rallies were held against what protesters called the spreading of homosexual content on the platform.

“We have grown our local-language moderation capacity for Pakistan and work diligently to review and take action on content in violation of our community guidelines,” a TikTok statement said after the latest takedown.

The Sindh High Court said the suspension would hold in place until the next hearing on the petition on July 8.

Freedom of speech advocates have long criticised creeping government censorship and control of Pakistan’s internet and media.

AFP

Biden Drops Plan To Ban TikTok, WeChat – White House

In this file photo illustration taken on August 03, 2020, the social media application logo, TikTok is displayed on the screen of an iPhone on an US flag as the background in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this file photo illustration taken on August 03, 2020, the social media application logo, TikTok is displayed on the screen of an iPhone on an US flag as the background in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

President Joe Biden on Wednesday revoked executive orders from his predecessor Donald Trump seeking to ban Chinese-owned mobile apps TikTok and WeChat over national security concerns, the White House said.

A White House statement said that instead of banning the popular apps, the Biden administration would carry out a “criteria-based decision framework and rigorous, evidence-based analysis to address the risks” from internet applications controlled by foreign entities.

Trump had claimed the Chinese-owned apps posed national security risks and had sought to force the sale of TikTok to US investors.

Biden’s order seeks to identify any “connected software applications that may pose an unacceptable risk to US national security and the American people” including “applications that are owned, controlled, or managed by persons that support foreign adversary military or intelligence activities, or are involved in malicious cyber activities, or involve applications that collect sensitive personal data.”

The new executive order calls for the Commerce Department and other federal agencies to develop guidelines “to protect sensitive personal data… including personally identifiable information and genetic information” from misuse.

This combination of pictures created on August 01, 2020 shows the logo of the social media video sharing app Tiktok displayed on a tablet screen in Paris, and ex-US President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, DC, on July 30, 2020. JIM WATSON, Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP

 

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TikTok, owned by China-based ByteDance, is believed to have some one billion users worldwide including more than 100 million in the United States, and is especially popular with young smartphone users.

WeChat, part of the Chinese tech giant Tencent, is a massively popular “super app” which includes social networking, messaging, e-commerce and more.

AFP