Pakistan reverses ban on TikTok after concessions

TikTok offset against a Microsoft logo
TikTok offset against a Microsoft logo (Image credit: Dan Thorp-Lancaster / Android Central)

Update, October 19 (03:00 pm ET): The ban has been reversed after TikTok gave assurances to the government

What you need to know

  • TikTok is now banned in Pakistan.
  • The Pakistan Tekecommication Authority says that this is down to the nature of the "immoral" content found on TikTok.
  • The app has also been banned in India and faces pressure in the U.S.

TikTok is another Chinese-affiliated tech name that's not having a very good year. The app has been banned from India, is facing off a ban in the U.S., and now it's been kicked out of Pakistan as well.

The Pakistani Telecommunication Authority issued the following statement on Twitter, announcing the ban:

In view of a number of complaints from different segments of the society against immoral/indecent content on the video sharing application TikTok, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has issued instructions for blocking of the application. Keeping in view the complaints and nature of the content being consistently posted on TikTok, PTA issued a final notice to the application and gave considerable time to respond and comply with the Authority instructions for development of effective mechanism for proactive moderation of unlawful online content.However, the application failed to fully comply with the instructions, therefore, directions were issued for blocking of TikTok application in the country. However, the application failed to fully comply with the instructions, therefore, directions were issued for blocking of TikTok application in the country.

At the time when the final warning was issued in March, the company had said that it was focused on creating a positive and safe environment (via, adding that it deployed "a combination of technologies, and moderation strategies to detect and review problematic content that violates our terms of use and comprehensive Community Guidelines, and implement appropriate penalties including removing videos and banning accounts." It also said that it had removed more than 4 million videos in violation of Pakistani rules between July 1 and December 31, 2019, at the time.

In a statement to Engadget, TikTok said:

We believe feeling safe helps people feel comfortable expressing themselves openly and allows creativity to flourish. [We have] robust protections in place to support a safe and welcoming platform for our community, including moderation, clear Community Guidelines, and easy mechanisms to report content for review.We are hopeful to reach a conclusion that helps us continue to serve the country's vibrant and creative online community.

Until that resolution is reached, the app will remain banned in Pakistan.

Update, October 19 (03:00 pm ET) — Pakistan unbans TikTok

The ban has been reversed after TikTok made some concessions to the Pakistani agency.

Writing on Twitter, the PTA said:

As a result of continuous engagement with the platform's senior management before & after imposition of the ban, TikTok has assured moderating content in accordance with societal norms & the laws of Pakistan and ensured that the users who are continuously involved in uploading unlawful content are blocked from the platform PTA, as a facilitator to the users' healthy digital experience on the internet and growth of digital companies, has therefore, decided to lift the ban.

Of course, the PTA notes that a permanent ban is not off the table if TikTok fails to hold up its end of the bargain. For now, TikTok is free to operate once more.

Michael Allison