Pakistan blocks TikTok for second time over 'immoral content'

Pakistan blocks TikTok for second time over 'immoral content'
Popular video sharing app TikTok has been blocked in Pakistan once again over concerns of immoral content.
3 min read
The app was previously blocked in Pakistan [Getty]
Pakistan has blocked video sharing app TikTok for a second time, after a court ordered the platform shut down over "unethical and immoral content".

Wildly popular among young Pakistanis, the Chinese-owned app was briefly banned last year on the same grounds by the ultra conservative Islamic country’s telecommunications agency.

"Pakistan Telecom Authority(PTA) has issued directions to the service providers to immediately block access to the TikTok app," it said Thursday following the court order earlier in the day.

The app has previously been blamed by one of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s advisers for promoting the "exploitation, objectification & sexualisation" of young girls.

Peshawar High Court, in the country's northwest, ordered the app to be banned immediately over videos "contrary to ethical standards and moral values of Pakistan," Sara Ali Khan, the lawyer who sought the ban, told AFP.

The app was not accessible in Pakistan on Thursday evening.

TikTok said it had "strong safeguards in place to keep inappropriate content off the platform".

Freedom of speech advocates have long criticised the creeping government censorship and control of Pakistan's internet and printed and electronic media.

Last year Pakistani regulators had asked YouTube to immediately block all videos they consider "objectionable" from being accessed in the country, a demand criticised by rights campaigners.

Owned by China's ByteDance, TikTok has also faced increasing controversy over how it collects and uses data although it has repeatedly denied sharing user information with Chinese authorities.

During the previous Donald Trump administration, officials in the United States accused it of being a national security risk with former President Donald Trump even attempting to take it out of Chinese hands. However, in Pakistan - a close ally of China - no privacy concerns have been raised.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has previously warned it would permanently ban TikTok if it failed to moderate posts.

Neighbouring India has already banned the app, along with dozens of other Chinese mobile platforms.

In January, a young man was hit and killed by a train in Pakistan while being filmed walking along the tracks for a TikTok stunt.

Hamza Naveed, 18, was walking next to the tracks while a friend filmed him, Raja Rafaqat Zaman, a spokesperson for the local rescue agency, told AFP.

"The moving train hit him while he was posing for a video and walking on the railway track," Zaman said.

Rescue workers rushed to the site, he said, but the young man was already dead. 

Friends of the young man told rescue workers he was posing for the video to post it on TikTok and his other social media accounts, Zaman said.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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