TikTok & Pakistan; Swinging Between Ban & Un-ban

Will TikTok get banned again?


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What is the difference between Corona Virus and TikTok? Well, Corona Virus has had only 3 waves. That is right, TikTok in a wave of bans and unbans, has been taken offline 4 times and users are still not sure whether there will be another ban anytime soon or not but keeping the indecisiveness of PTA in mind, you cannot really expect something can you? I mean we had YouTube banned for years. The only way to access YouTube was through a VPN. Now YouTube’s back and the VPNs are still here, wink wink.

Back to TikTok, it is undoubtedly one of the most widely used applications in Pakistan among all age groups. I mean, in the despair of lockdown, TikTok was if not the only one of the few apps that provided a source of entertainment to the people. Cringe too but let’s not go there. In reality, TikTok is not just a social media application that provides short videos, there is more to it than that. It is more of a platform where people share their passion, share their art and showcase their skills. You have funny videos, you have life hacks, there are tips and much more. It’s like an open world game with a number of quests. For many people it is a way of earning as well. The application does not pay itself but if you have good content and a good reach, third parties sponsor you to market them.

So, if the users are happy, creators are happy, sponsors are happy and people are getting paid, why is the government in discord with the application?

Long story short, Government has an issue with the content present on the application. The very first ban on the application came back in 2020 when the government decided to crackdown on applications like Tinder and others over “immoral” content. Not much later, the ban was lifted after the application promised to remove some content since TikTok has a large consumer base in Pakistan. After the removal of almost 9 million videos, the ban was again (and again and again) imposed with the narrative that the application did not comply with PTA.

While TikTok is online now, will a ban again be imposed? We don’t know. It is a global platform, all sorts of content will be there, it is nearly impossible to remove all of it. Taking the app offline is not a viable solution, there are people that earn from the app. Besides, it does not send a very welcoming message to the foreign investors looking to invest in the digital market of Pakistan.

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Habib Rajput

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