Sunday, May 26

Nepal Declares Ban on TikTok Citing Disruption to Social Harmony

In a recent announcement, Nepal has revealed plans to ban TikTok, citing concerns about the app’s negative impact on social harmony.

The decision, made during a cabinet meeting on Monday, was communicated by Nepal’s Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Rekha Sharma. According to Sharma, TikTok has been misused to share content that “disturbs social harmony and disrupts family structures and social relations.”

Sharma mentioned that the ban is being pursued to address rising demands for control over the popular video-sharing app due to its perceived negative influence. She stated, “Colleagues are working on closing it technically,” without providing specific details on the triggering factors for the ban.

TikTok has faced partial or complete bans in various countries, often citing security concerns. In Nepal, over the last four years, more than 1,600 TikTok-related cybercrime cases have been registered, as reported by local media.

Purushottam Khanal, the chief of Nepal Telecom Authority, stated that internet service providers have been instructed to shut down the app. “Some have already closed, while others are doing it later today [Monday],” Khanal informed Reuters news agency.

TikTok has not yet responded to requests for comment on the ban. The platform has previously criticised such bans as “misguided” and based on “misconceptions.”

Following the public announcement of the ban, TikTok videos addressing the decision garnered thousands of views. However, opposition leaders in Nepal opposed the move, expressing concerns about its effectiveness, maturity, and responsibility.

Pradeep Gyawali, a senior leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), emphasized the need for regulation rather than restriction, stating, “There are many unwanted materials in other social media also.”

Gagan Thapa, leader of the Nepali Congress party, part of the ruling coalition, suggested that the government’s intention appears to be stifling freedom of expression. He argued that while regulation is necessary, shutting down social media platforms in the name of regulation is entirely wrong.

This decision comes shortly after Nepal introduced a directive requiring social media platforms operating in the country to establish offices.

TikTok, with approximately a billion monthly users, is the sixth most used social platform globally and is operated by the Beijing-based parent company ByteDance.

Multiple countries have sought to tighten controls on TikTok, alleging breaches of data rules and potential harm to youth. India banned TikTok in June 2020, citing national security concerns, while Pakistan has banned the app multiple times over its perceived “immoral and indecent” content. Despite criticism, ByteDance rejects claims of being under direct control from Beijing.

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