A country just banned TikTok because it disrupts ‘social harmony’ and ‘family structure’

  • Nepal’s government announced an immediate ban on TikTok. 
  • Authorities last week tightened control over all social media with new rules for users.
  • The ban is the latest example of rising international pressure on the Chinese-owned app. 

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The government of Nepal banned TikTok over what it says it its damaging effect on Nepalese society.

Content shared on the app was responsible for disturbing “social harmony, family structure and family relations,” said Rekha Sharma, Nepal’s minister for communications and information technology.

“The decision to ban was made today, and relevant authorities are currently addressing the technical issues,” Sharma said.

It is unclear when TikTok’s 2.2 million users in Nepal will lose access to the Chinese-owned app.

While the ban in Nepal is unlikely to have a serious impact on the app, which has more than 1 billion users worldwide, it’s another sign of the rising global pressure facing owner Bytedance.

In 2020, India banned TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps in the interest of the country’s “sovereignty and integrity” following geopolitical tensions. Meanwhile, lawmakers in the US, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, and Taiwan have also taken steps to restrict access to TikTok citing national security concerns.

In the US, some state and federal officials have introduced blanket bans on having the app installed on government devices, in an effort to prevent Chinese authorities potentially accessing sensitive information.

International concerns center on whether user data could make its way into the hands of the Chinese government and its role in the spread of disinformation. A number of countries have initiated probes to understand how credible this threat is.

TikTok has denied sharing information with the Chinese government and said it would not do so if asked. But under Chinese law, authorities can request access to data held by companies.

The crackdown on TikTok in Nepal follows a series of tight controls on other social media platforms announced last week, per The Kathmandu Post.

Social media companies must now register with the government, open an office, and pay taxes in Nepal.

A 19-point “not-to-do” list has also been introduced for users across all platforms, including a ban on posts that contain hate speech, spread misinformation, or terrorism-related content.

Some journalists and activists in the country warned that the new restrictions are a government attempt to suppress free speech, The New York Times reported.

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider, made outside normal working hours.

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Polly Thompson