TikTok ban | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

TikTok ban

Pakistan Press Foundation

Once again, the popular social media platform TikTok, used to host videos made by people from across the country and from elsewhere around the world, has been banned. This time the ban came from a bench of the Peshawar High Court. The petition against TikTok, on the grounds that it hosts ‘immoral’ or ‘indecent’ content, had been filed by two female lawyers. In October last year, the PTA had unilaterally banned TikTok for some time and sought cooperation from the company’s managers in dealing with immoral or provocative content on this social media platform. TikTok has said, in response to the latest ban, that it had cooperated fully with Pakistani authorities, which is why the previous PTA ban was lifted after about a month, and had also expanded its local monitoring team in the local language by nearly 250 percent.

Banning TikTok is a peculiar step. In the first place, content which some would find offensive or indecent exists elsewhere on social media too. There is also the question of what is offensive to whom. Material that one person may find objectionable may be found entertaining or enjoyable by the other. People should have the right to choose what they watch, and what channels they choose to access, while children should be governed by parents in this regard. It seems ridiculous to ban an entire platform, which was helping people generate money in desperate times by using their creativity and their skills. The fact that TikTok is a platform used most often by people from lower income brackets appears to be one factor behind the frequent attacks it faces. It is unclear why this should be the case, but it is one indication of the damaging class divide in our country. To his credit, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhary has also attempted to defend TikTok, and called on Pakistan to keep a good relationship with all major tech companies. In case anyone needs to be reminded, this is the age of social media. And it is hardly surprising that so many young people should have turned to TikTok to air their content on it in various forms. Of course, social media is a world that we are still learning how to negotiate, but there is no reason why a ban should be necessary, rather than teaching people how to negotiate through the app and choose wisely what they watch and what they allow younger adults or children to watch. For anyone over 18, the choice of what they place in the public sphere, and what they follow is entirely their own. This basic liberty of the citizens of Pakistan must be honoured and the state and all its branches must understand that placing bans on free speech is no answer to whatever ills they think exist in our society.

Newspaper: The News

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