Pakistani authorities once again banned the popular TikTok social media app on Thursday after a court ruled on a private individual’s petition accusing the company of promoting profanity.
“The TikTok ban goes into effect today,” a company official told AFP, and users confirmed they couldn’t access their accounts or watch the short video clips that made the application one of the most popular in the country.
“That’s absurd,” says Imdad Kazmi, who studies mass communication at a state university.
“It affects thousands of people who advertise their products, fashion and other goods. The TikTok ban is not a solution at all.”
Chinese-owned TikTok was previously closed twice in Pakistan for allegedly “offensive” content, most recently in March, after which the company promised to moderate the content better.
It said Wednesday that it had removed more than six million videos from its service in Pakistan in the past three months alone, about 15 percent involving “adult nudity and sexual activity”. A spokesman said the content had been removed due to requests from both the user and the government.
In the Muslim nation, posting videos in Western clothing that shows too much skin is taboo and often abused. At the beginning of this month, small anti-TikTok rallies took place against the so-called dissemination of homosexual content on the platform.
“We have increased our capacity for local voice moderation for Pakistan and are working diligently to review content and take action that violates our community guidelines,” said a TikTok statement after the last removal.
The Sindh High Court said the suspension would stand until the next hearing on the petition on July 8th.
Free speech advocates have long criticized Pakistan’s growing government censorship and control of the internet and the media.