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Pakistan lifts TikTok ban after just 10 days

Pakistan lifts TikTok ban after just 10 days


The app was banned for hosting ‘immoral’ and ‘indecent’ videos

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Pakistan has lifted its ban on TikTok, just 10 days after blocking the app on the grounds that it hosted “immoral” and “indecent” videos. Pakistan’s Telecommunication Authority (PTA) now says that TikTok has “assured” the agency that videos will be moderated “in accordance with societal norms and the laws of Pakistan.”

TikTok had not been fully responsive in the past to Pakistan’s demands for restrictions on accounts and videos. The company’s latest transparency report showed that TikTok acted on only two accounts out of 40 from which Pakistan requested content be restricted. The PTA’s statement suggests that TikTok moderation may be stricter in the country going forward.

A disproportionate amount of videos are already removed in Pakistan

Pakistan is TikTok’s 12th largest market in terms of app installs, with 43 million installs total, according to the analytics firm Sensor Tower. Despite its 12th place in market share, Pakistan ranked third in terms of total video removals for violating TikTok’s content standards during the first half of 2020, with more than 6.4 million videos pulled. These videos were removed by TikTok, rather than at the government’s request, though videos may be removed for violating local laws.

“We’re pleased to see that the TikTok app has been restored in Pakistan and that we will be able to continue enabling Pakistani voices and creativity in a safe environment,” a TikTok spokesperson said in an email to The Verge.

TikTok remains banned in India, and it’s still under threat of being banned in the United States. The restrictions could severely hamper TikTok’s growth, but for the time being, the app continues to be a phenomenon. Pakistan says that while TikTok is back in its country for now, it could still be blocked again in the future if the company doesn’t follow through with its moderation promises. “PTA will be constrained to permanently block the application incase said condition is not fulfilled,” the agency wrote.