TikTok Banned in Pakistan After Racking Up 43 Million Downloads
(Bloomberg) - Pakistani regulators have blocked the popular TikTok video app in the country, citing the parent company's inability to monitor immoral and indecent content on the service.
TikTok, owned by the Chinese technology company ByteDance Ltd. has a significant user base in Pakistan. The app has been installed nearly 43 million times across the country, according to research firm SensorTower, including 14.7 million installations this year alone. This makes Pakistan TikTok the twelfth largest market. In comparison, there were over 200 million downloads in the US, according to SensorTower.
A TikTok spokeswoman said the company is in regular communication with the Pakistani authorities and is removing content that violates its policies in all markets in which it operates. The company's transparency report shows that between January and June, nearly 6.5 million videos were removed in Pakistan, the third most popular country after India and the US. The same report shows that the Pakistani government made four inquiries to TikTok regarding the content, citing 40 user accounts. Only two of these accounts have been removed or restricted.
Pakistan, one of China's closest allies, is joining a wave of countries cracking down on the video app. Over the summer, India banned TikTok as part of a major cleanup of Chinese apps. Indonesia, Egypt and Bangladesh have also taken steps to restrict TikTok.
President Donald Trump is pushing for TikTok to be banned if ByteDance doesn't make an agreement to outsource the app to US owners by early November. Oracle Corp. and Walmart Inc. have agreed to acquire a minority stake in a proposed TikTok spin-off, and while Trump conceptually approved the deal, many details are still being worked out.
The TikTok spokeswoman said the company hopes to bring the app back online in Pakistan to avert bans elsewhere. "TikTok is an inclusive platform built around creative expression, and we hope to achieve an outcome that will help us serve the country's vibrant and creative online community," she said in a statement.
The Pakistani Telecommunications Authority said in a statement that it had issued instructions for the lockdown but was open to the ban being lifted if TikTok followed its instructions. "TikTok has been informed that the agency is open to engagement and will review its decision if TikTok provides a satisfactory mechanism for moderating illegal content," the agency said.
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