The ban on TikToK in Pakistan - Why?

Updated: Nov 16, 2021

The popularity of TikTok:

A growing social media platform, Tik Tok has surpassed Facebook in terms of the most downloaded app. The reason for its success is the concept of short videos, which means you can create 15 to 60 seconds videos. The App is youngsters’ favorite because of their growing engagement. Globally, The average time spent on TikTok is about 45 minutes, the highest among all other social media apps. The success of TikTok within short period of time is above all other social media network and incredible.

In July 2021, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) banned the top short video sharing app Tik Tok for immoral and inappropriate content spreading on it. It is the fourth time that the Beijing-based company ByteDance's app is facing a ban in Pakistan.

The retrospective view of its ban in Pakistan:

Till now, TikTok has been banned four times in Pakistan. The PTA first banned TikTok in Oct 2020 over receiving applications regarding its decency and immoral content spreading on TikTok. Later, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) condemned the decision to ban, arguing that PTA has violated the mandate granted by Pakistan Electronic Crime Act (2016). There is no such provision that allows PTA to ban any website and app without framing any rule. Moreover, the ban is also against Article 19 of Pakistan’s constitution, which grants every individual freedom of expression and speech.

The ban was lifted just after 10 days, but on the condition that the company will not allow inappropriate content to spread, which will against local customs and religious beliefs. China's foreign ministry welcomed Pakistan's decision and assured that the app would follow the national demands and concerns.

The Second and Third Ban:

In March 2021 Peshawar court (PHC) ordered PTA to ban it again for the same reason of obscenity spreading on it. However, the decision was reversed after three weeks. Later, Sindh High Court (SHC) ordered to suspend the services of TikTok for the repeated violation of local customers, but just after 4 days, the TikTok was allowed again.

The fourth and longest ban:

However, the euphoria was of a short time when PTA banned it again and stopped the services. It is the longest ban that TikTok is facing. Still, the App is suspended and struggling to re-continue its presence in Pakistan. The PTA seems like tightens its rope and will not let the App to be functionalized until the unlawful content is removed.

Why is TikTok most popular among youngster?

TikTok is also known as the youngsters’ App. Among all cohorts, it attracted Gen Z (the people who were born between 1996 – 2012) most – undoubtedly it came as the revolutionary social media platform for them – where they can catch the eyes of the public with little effort. Why it has achieved its place in the youngster, especially, in Gen Z. One of the main characteristics of Gen Z is that they are more technology adaptive as compared to the older generations.

Youngster Making TikTok - Frere Hall, Karachi
Youngster Making TikTok - Frere Hall, Karachi

Likewise, in Pakistan also, kids and teenagers found themselves more familiarized with technology, especially social media platforms. Having a platform like TikTok, which allows them to make feel like an actor by just syncing with songs, is a holy grail for them. It requires very little effort as compared with other social media platforms to create a video and showing to the world.

Mostly, the content, which is uploaded or created, on TikTok includes Lip-sync, dancing, comedy, and knowledge videos. The format of the app is like that the content which will be shown is in its algorithms hands. Very little flexibility a user has to choose the content. For example, in YouTube and Facebook, the suggestion is given to a user if they click, the video run. However, in the case of TikTok, the swipe-up thing decides. A person has to just swipe up the video and the text content will be spread. Because the design of the app is based on short videos, a viewer can view more in less time. This is the reason that it popularized a creator very shortly.

TikTok as a mean of earning and growth:

As social Apps allow ordinary people to showcase their talent to the masses and build their careers, those, who succeed in gaining eyes, become meme machines. Meme machines are those influencers who earn money through their uploaded content. Resultantly, likes, comments, and shares become means of advancing their earning. People earns through advertising when advertiser bet on top creators to promote their brands.

TikTokers - Who has become popular
TikTokers - Who has become popular

TikTok provided opportunity to the youngster to come up with their talent and showing to the community. The algorithms, undoubtedly, change many lives and build futures. Many creators gained so much popularity in very little time. Some of them succeed to become a part of national television such as they appeared in shows and dramas.

What are the challenged to TikTok in Pakistan?

However, apart from its pros, some elements in it are considered as against the cultural norms. The immoral and obscenity, however the only 1 percent, is the main concern for Pakistan’s authority. Because most viewers are kids and youngsters, TikTok is demanded to remove all the indecent content.

According to the TikTok Transparency report, published in Oct 2021, more than 9 million videos, which contained indecency content, have been removed from the platform. It was about 70 percent of content that vanished from the app. Moreover, the company will bring it to zero and try to nullify all the immoral or indecent content. However, still the authorities are not giving the green signal to let it open its services again.

The competitors are also emerging such as snack videos, and YouTube stance of starting its own short videos format. The longer the TikTok remains ban, the viewers will snatched by others. Perhaps, the credibility could be declined. People will lose their confidence because of repeatedly banning of it.


As the TikTok gained its popularity among youth, the issues were created due to the presence of immoral content on it. Thus, It remained ban for several time and still has been banned. Undoubtedly, it provided benefits to many to show their talent and earn recognition. The fame later turned into mean of earning. However, it is facing enormous challenges, especially the indecency content on app. If the app don't come up with the concrete solution, the uncertainty would always be exist of its functionalization.