Pakistan has banned the Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok, citing the presence of “immoral and indecent” content on the app.
In a statement on Friday, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said months have passed since it first issued a warning to TikTok. The authority said TikTok has “failed to comply with the instructions.”
“... therefore, directions were issued for blocking of TikTok application in the country,” the statement reads. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority said it received a “number of complaints from different segments of the society” about the content on TikTok.
“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,” the PTA added.
ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, issued a statement saying that it’s in communication with Pakistani regulators and is working toward a resolution.
“We are hopeful to reach a conclusion that helps us serve the country’s vibrant and creative community online,” TikTok said.
TikTok has already been banned by India over cybersecurity concerns, and its fate in the United States remains uncertain.
In August, President Trump signed an executive order giving ByteDance 45 days to sell TikTok’s U.S. operations or risk a ban on downloads. A ban on downloads hasn’t yet been enacted. The Trump administration has expressed concern that the content posted on the app by American citizens could be shared with the Chinese government.
Although Pakistan officials cited concerns of “immoral and indecent” content, critics say the action may have been taken for political reasons. Political content on TikTok has surged since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and journalists have suggested that some of that content may have irked Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority “has blocked TikTok not because of immoral content but because TikTokers are poking fun of the Great Leader,” Najam Sethi, a Pakistani journalist, said in a Twitter post.