October 10 (The Verge) – Pakistan’s telecom regulator has banned TikTok, claiming the app failed to remove “immoral” and “indecent” content. The ban comes just over a month after the regulator, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, banned dating apps, including Tinder and Grindr, for the same reason.
TikTok had been installed 43 million times in Pakistan, according to the analytics firm Sensor Tower. That made it the app’s 12th largest market in terms of installs. The firm estimates TikTok has been installed 2.2 billion times total across Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store.
The ban comes just a few months after TikTok was removed in India over concerns around the app’s Chinese ownership. The United States is still moving to ban TikTok over those same concerns. The ban itself is currently on hold due to a court order, but other restrictions are set to go into place in mid-November.
TikTok has remained a cultural phenomenon even as it comes under immense pressure from regulators across the globe. But the ongoing bans — particularly, the pending ban in the US — pose real threats to the app’s growth, as they could indefinitely cut off new installs in major markets like the US and India.
Regulators in Pakistan said they gave TikTok “considerable time” to respond to their concerns, but the company “failed to fully comply.” A recent transparency report shows that government authorities in Pakistan asked TikTok to restrict 40 accounts during the first half of 2020, but the company only restricted two of them.
TikTok said it has “robust protections in place” and hopes to return to Pakistan. “TikTok is an inclusive platform built upon the foundation of creative expression, and we are hopeful to reach a conclusion that helps us serve the country’s vibrant and creative online community,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement sent to The Verge.