TikTok removes six million videos in Pakistan after ban


This file, taken August 11, 2020, shows the logo of the Chinese video app TikTok on the side of the company’s office space on the C3 campus in Culver City, western Los Angeles. AFP

KARACHI – More than six million videos were removed from TikTok in Pakistan in three months, the app said Wednesday as it fights an on-off ban in the deeply conservative country.

The Chinese-owned app is wildly popular with Pakistani youths and has been shut down by authorities twice over “obscene” content, most recently in March, after which the company promised to moderate uploads.

“In the Pakistani market, TikTok removed 6,495,992 videos, making it the second market to get the most videos removed after the United States, where 8,540,088 videos were removed,” TikTok Pakistan’s latest transparency report said Wednesday, covering January to March.

About 15 percent of the videos removed were “adult nudity and sexual activity.”

A spokesman said the videos made in Pakistan were banned due to both user and government requests.

In the Muslim nation, it is taboo to post videos in Western clothing that reveal too much skin, and it is often abused.

Earlier this month, small anti-TikTok rallies were held against what protesters called the spread of gay content.

“One might speculate that this is a result of government pressure or a reflection of the sheer volume of content produced in Pakistan given the popularity of the platform or both,” said digital rights activist Nighat Dad.

“Social media platforms are more willing to remove and block content in Pakistan to avoid complete bans,” she said.

It comes as the app faces a new court battle in the port city of Karachi, where a judge has asked the telecommunications authorities to suspend it in order to spread “immoral content”. However, the platform still works in Pakistan.

Advocates of free speech have long criticized the insidious government censorship and control of Pakistan’s internet and media.

Dating apps have been blocked, and last year, Pakistani regulators had asked YouTube to instantly block all videos they considered “offensive” in accessing the country, a claim criticized by rights campaigns.

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