Pakistani regulators decided to block the popular video app TikTok in the country, citing inability on the part of the parent company in policing the service’s immoral and indecent content.
TikTok, which is owned by Chinese technology company ByteDance Ltd., has a sizeable user base in Pakistan. The app has been installed nearly 43 million times in the country, including 14.7 million installations this year alone, according to data from research firm SensorTower. This makes Pakistan the twelfth largest market for TikTok. By comparison, the United States has had more than 200 million downloads, according to SensorTower.
A TikTok spokeswoman said the company is in constant communication with Pakistani authorities and removes content that violates their policies in all markets where it operates. The company’s transparency report shows that it removed almost 6.5 million videos in Pakistan between January and June, the third most of any country after India and the US The same report shows that the Pakistani government made four requests to TikTok about content, citing 40 user accounts. Only two of those accounts were deleted or restricted.
Pakistan, one of China’s close allies, is joining a wave of countries that is opposing the enforcement. Over the summer, India banned TikTok as part of a broad purge of Chinese apps. Indonesia, Egypt, and Bangladesh have also taken steps to restrict TikTok.
President Donald Trump is pushing to ban TikTok if ByteDance does not reach an agreement to deliver the app to US owners in early November. Oracle Corp. and Walmart Inc. have agreed to buy a minority stake, and although Trump approved the deal in concept, many of the details are still being worked out.
The TikTok spokeswoman said the company hopes to return the app to Pakistan as it seeks to avoid bans elsewhere. “TikTok is an inclusive platform built on the foundation of creative expression, and we are hopeful of reaching a conclusion that allows us to serve the creative and dynamic community of the country,” he said in a statement.
The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority said in a statement that it issued instructions for the blockade, but that it is willing to reverse the ban if TikTok complies with its orders. “TikTok was informed that the Authority is willing to speak and will review its decision subject to a satisfactory mechanism from TikTok on moderating illegal content,” the agency said.