ISLAMABAD • Pakistan’s telecommunications regulator has issued a “final warning” to short-form video app TikTok over “immoral” content posted on the platform, while live-streaming app Bigo Live has been blocked in the country for the same reason.
TikTok, owned by China-based ByteDance, is already facing problems with the authorities in a number of countries including Australia, India and the United States due to security and privacy issues.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said in a statement on Monday that it had sent TikTok and Bigo Live notices to moderate their content after getting complaints but their response was unsatisfactory.
“PTA has decided to immediately block Bigo and issue final warning to TikTok to put in place a comprehensive mechanism to control obscenity, vulgarity and immorality through its social media application,” the statement said.
TikTok representatives did not respond to a request by Reuters for comment. Singapore-based Bigo Technology, which owns the live video-streaming app Bigo Live, also did not respond to a request for comment.
TikTok is among the world’s most popular social media apps, with more than two billion downloads globally.
In Pakistan, it has been downloaded almost 39 million times and is the third most-downloaded app over the past year, after WhatsApp and Facebook, said analytics firm Sensor Tower.
Bigo Live has been downloaded over 17 million times in Pakistan and is the 19th-most downloaded app in the country.
TikTok was banned for a short period in India last year after a court said it encouraged pornography.
While that order was overturned after a legal challenge by the company, the Indian government recently banned the app again following a military stand-off on the border with China.
Though Pakistan is a socially conservative, mostly Muslim country, it shares close ties with communist-ruled China. Pakistan counts China as its largest investor and most reliable ally.
The two apps are not the first to be targeted by the PTA.
Number of times TikTok has been downloaded in Pakistan, and is the third most-downloaded app over the past year, after WhatsApp and Facebook, said analytics firm Sensor Tower.
In July, the PTA banned the PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds platform, which has over 16 million users in Pakistan, because it had received complaints “that the game is addictive, wastage of time and poses serious negative impact on the physical and psychological health of children”.
Pakistan’s recently passed social media and digital laws have been widely criticised by rights activists as being draconian because of the sweeping powers given to the authorities.