Pakistan’s the latest country to ban China-owned app TikTok

Illustration for article titled Pakistan Is Also Doing the Ban TikTok Challenge

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Pakistan officials have announced a ban on TikTok after receiving complaints of unlawful content on the popular short-form video-sharing app. It’s the latest country to block the app after India instituted a similar ban and the U.S. attempted to do the same because of a squabble over who owns TikTok’s American business, which is currently the Beijing-based Bytedance.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority said in a statement Friday that it came to the decision after TikTok failed to censor “immoral and indecent” content on its platform, the Associated Press reports. After receiving several complaints and petitions calling for the app to be banned, the authority gave TikTok a final warning in July to meet its guidelines and take down unlawful content (the Muslim-majority country has several media regulations intended to preserve conservative values), which the company purportedly failed to do.

“We have been asking them repeatedly to put in place an effective mechanism for blocking immoral and indecent content,” an official involved in the decision told Reuters.

The ban may not be permanent though; the PTA said in Friday’s statement that it’s “open for engagement” with TikTok and would review its decision should the company beef up its content moderation systems. The dating apps Tinder and Grindr also received bans last month over similar issues.

TikTok has become wildly popular all over the world since it launched outside of China in 2017, and Pakistan is no exception. The app reported 20 million monthly active users there and was the country’s third most downloaded app over the last year after WhatsApp and Facebook, a PTA spokesperson told Reuters.

But over the last year or so several countries have begun to push back against several Chinese owned apps over strained international relations with Beijing. In June, India banned TikTok along with 58 other China-based apps as retaliation for a deadly border conflict in the Himalayas. The Trump administration has been trying to crack down on the app for months, citing national security concerns and so far unfounded accusations that TikTok is quietly leaking U.S. user data to Beijing, which the company has vehemently denied. A countrywide ban was scheduled to go into effect at the end of September before a federal judge put a moratorium on it until the issue’s hashed out in court.

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