July 18, 2024

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Nepal Bans TikTok, Citing Detrimental Content to Social Harmony

Nepal has officially banned the popular social media platform TikTok, citing concerns that its content is “detrimental to social harmony.” This decision follows the recent introduction of a new rule in Nepal requiring social media companies to establish liaison offices within the country.

The Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Rekha Sharma, stated that TikTok was spreading malicious content, leading to the immediate enforcement of the ban. She directed the telecom authorities to implement the decision promptly.

While several countries, including India, have previously banned TikTok, the move by Nepal raises questions about freedom of expression. Gagan Thapa, a senior leader of the Nepali Congress (a coalition government member), criticised the decision, suggesting that officials should focus on regulating the platform rather than imposing a ban.

TikTok, owned by ByteDance, has faced global scrutiny over concerns that user data could be shared with the Chinese government. The parent company has consistently denied these allegations.

Despite being surpassed by platforms like Facebook and Instagram in terms of overall user numbers, TikTok’s rapid growth among young people has been notable. The app has gained popularity, particularly among users aged 16 to 24, making it the third most-used platform in Nepal, according to a report.

The ban comes in the wake of increasing cybercrime cases related to TikTok, with more than 1,600 cases reported in Nepal over the past four years. While concerns about data security have led to bans in various countries, TikTok remains widely popular, with a significant user base in the younger demographic.

Notably, TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has faced criticism and regulatory actions in several regions, and TikTok has been temporarily banned multiple times in Pakistan and faced restrictions on its online shopping service in Indonesia last month.