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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Should TikTok be banned in Pakistan?

The famous online video app is famous for its controversial and sometimes disturbing videos. Many criticize the software; however, does that mean TikTok must be banned in order to ensure safety of Pakistani social media users?

News Analysis |

In an interesting move, a lawyer approached the Lahore High Court (LHC) to ban popular social media site: TikTok. The lawyer has argued that the Android-based social media video application, in Pakistan, is a source of vulgarity and pornography.

It has been argued that the said application is causing social unrest due to its objectionable content. Keeping in view the overall social background and cultural discourse, the lawyer argues, it is imperative to ban the site. “TikTok is a great mischief of modern times. It is destroying the youth and promoting immoral activities,” stated Advocate Nadeem Sarwar in his petition.

The application in-question was created by a Chinese company and introduced on overseas market last year, according to the petition. The application aims at helping people create and share videos on their accounts. Some videos go viral which, in the lawyer’s view, are a threat to social stability and moral order of Pakistani society.

Today a lawyer wants TikTok to be banned and, I can assure you, tomorrow you will see another lawyer asking the courts to ban Facebook and Twitter.

The lawyer pleads that the application has been causing negative social impacts, wastage of time, energy, money and even nudity, source of harassment and blackmailing. He says that the same application has been banned in Bangladesh and Malaysia for its pornographic and inappropriate content and its use for mocking people.

Sarwar pleads that Pakistan is an Islamic country and it is the duty of the state to take steps to enable its Muslim citizens to live their lives in accordance with basic principles of Islam. The lawyer contends that a lot of tragic incidents of blackmailing have already occurred where people recorded videos secretly which then go viral on TikTok.

Sarwar claimed that a girl also committed suicide out of fear of her family after a video of her dancing in a classroom filmed by her friend went viral on the application in-question. He submitted that before more such incidents occur the government must ban the app.

Read more: After Bangladesh, TikTok faces ban in India

The lawyer asks the court to direct the respondents to impose a complete ban on TikTok in Pakistan for degrading culture and encouraging pornography.

A Step Towards a Controlled Public Sphere?

Analysts believe that such protectionist approach may not work in the 21st century where the world has become a global village and these digital tools are the main source of connectivity.  Professor G-M Pitafi of University of Management & Technology, Lahore, believes those Pakistani intelligentsias need to educate people in order to make them capable of accepting social media change and appreciate social integration.

“Look what is happening in Pakistan. Today a lawyer wants TikTok to be banned and, I can assure you, tomorrow you will see another lawyer asking the courts to ban Facebook and Twitter. This is not how societies evolve and people learn about modern values of liberty and individualism,” he said.

Read more: TikTok app fined in US for illegally gathering children’s data

Social scientists and those holding a liberal worldview believe that Pakistani court.s must not become organizations determining individuals’ moral character. The courts must deal with points of law, not morality, which is sometimes a matter of personal choice. Increased legalization to control social media sites may result in an overtly controlled public space which is a negation of democracy that demands freedom and constitutional protection to guard the right of every individual.