Pakistan on Friday banned the wildly popular video-sharing app TikTok, as authorities press their clampdown on “immoral” content.
Chinese-owned TikTok which has become a global sensation with its short video clips has a huge user base among young Pakistanis, with some attracting millions of followers.
But it has come up against backlash in the ultra-conservative Islamic country, where in recent months several dating apps including Tinder and Grindr have also been banned and YouTube threatened with shutdown.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority on Friday said TikTok had failed to adhere to two warnings, which had demanded it block “immoral, obscene and vulgar” content.
“The application failed to fully comply with the instructions, therefore, directions were issued for blocking of TikTok application in the country”, the PTA said in a statement.
Pakistanis were unable to access the app on Friday evening.
Arslan Khalid, a digital media adviser to Prime Minister Imran Khan, has previously claimed the “exploitation, objectification & sexualization of young girls on TikTok” was causing pain to parents.
Earlier this week, Pakistani TikToker Jannat Mirza became the first in the country to reach 10 million followers, with lip-syncing and slow-motion clips among her content.
“TikTok is a major source of entertainment for lower and middle-class Pakistanis, as well as illiterate citizens that include half the population as it is video-based and easy to use,” said Usama Khilji, a digital rights activist, who said the ban violates freedom of speech.
Akhlaq Ahmed, who ran a TikTok account with friends from the remote town of Jhal Magsi in Balochistan province, said the news was like “losing someone from my family”.
“The ban is unfair and unjustified… instead of banning the app the PTA should have called on TikTok to ban those users,” he said of the “immoral” content.