Pakistan issues final warning to Chinese-owned TikTok over immoral content

Pakistan Forward and AFP

In a photo taken on April 13, the TikTok logo is displayed on an iPhone in Arlington, Virginia, the United States. [Olivier DOULIERY/AFP]

In a photo taken on April 13, the TikTok logo is displayed on an iPhone in Arlington, Virginia, the United States. [Olivier DOULIERY/AFP]

ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan has issued a final warning to Chinese-owned social media app TikTok to clamp down on what it called "immoral, obscene and vulgar" content on the video-sharing platform.

TikTok has become a global sensation with its 15- to 60-second video clips and is hugely popular among young Pakistanis, with some users building up millions of followers.

But the app has come up against backlash, with critics blaming it for spreading nudity and pornography.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) announced it had received a number of complaints about TikTok over its "extremely negative effects on the society and the youth in particular".

In a statement late Monday (July 20), it said it had already issued notices to the company asking it to moderate content, before issuing a final warning ordering filters be put in place to stop "obscenity, vulgarity and immorality".

Arslan Khalid, a digital media adviser to Prime Minister Imran Khan, welcomed the decision. The "exploitation, objectification & sexualization of young girls on tik tok" were causing pain to parents, he tweeted.

TikTok has not responded to a request for comment.

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

Neighbouring India banned the app, along with dozens of other Chinese mobile platforms, over national security and privacy concerns, with the United States considering a similar move.

China and social media

While Twitter, YouTube, Google and Facebook are banned in China, which uses a "Great Firewall" to restrict access to news and information, Chinese diplomats and state media hypocritically take advantage of openness abroad and have flocked to such platforms in recent years to push Beijing's narrative.

A particularly outrageous claim made by China and spread on social media was the conspiracy theory claiming that the US military brought the coronavirus to Wuhan.

Coronavirus disinformation spread by Russian and Chinese journalists is finding a bigger audience on social media than does content created by premier news outlets around the world, the Oxford Internet Institute said in a report published June 29.

Twitter on June 12 said it had deleted more than 170,000 accounts linked to Chinese government disinformation campaigns.

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