Infamous entertainment app Tiktok has been banned by Nepal as the app was disrupting the country’s “social harmony”, a meeting on Monday with Nepali government officials has concluded with efforts to tighten control over content regulation.
The app, used by billions of users around the world, is also banned in India and the state of Montana in the U.S. The UK parliament has also banned the use of the app in their network. Pakistan has banned the app nearly four times since Oct. 2020 while the online shopping service on the app was disabled by Indonesia last month.
The ban comes as a response to the encouragement of hate speech on the app, and that the content was actively disrupting the social harmony in the country. Government officials claim that the company, owned by Bytedance, a Chinese tech giant, declined to address concerns about content management on TikTok.
More than 1,600 TikTok cyber-crimes have occurred over the last four years in Nepal, and according to BBC, TikTok ranks as the third most used platform nationally, with Youtube and Facebook taking the lead.
Last week, the Nepali government put out instructions for social media platforms forbidding content such as hate speech, sexual exploitation, drugs, fake news, terrorism-related messages and private photos posted without consent.
All social media companies, such as X, Facebook and Instagram, are now required to open offices in Nepal to directly address concerns and remove forbidden content. They are also required to register with the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology or else will face a ban just like TikTok.
This ban has brought about several mixed opinions, with some officials promoting the ban and others denouncing it, claiming that the ban serves a political agenda rather than for user protection in the country.
Gagan Thapa, the general secretary of the Nepali Congress, disagrees with the government’s decision, stating that the space for “freedom of expression and personal freedom” is shrinking. He posted this statement on Facebook a day ago:
"Regulation is required to discourage those misusing social networking sites, but it is totally wrong to shut them down in the name of regulation. It is more a matter of the government's intention than whether or not to shut down a social network. It was seen that the government's intention was to stifle 'freedom of expression and individuality'.”
Thapa is one of many disagreeing with the ban, civil society groups also urge the government to rethink the decision as blocking the app will stop the ongoing flow of communication and expression within the country. Several online discussions bring up the ban of the app could affect the livelihood of many content creators who depend on TikTok.
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