Authorities in Nepal are set to ban social media platform TikTok on grounds that its misuse is disturbing social harmony.
The country’s Communications Minister Rekha Sharma on Monday said the decision was arrived at after a cabinet meeting.
She added that TikTok, which has over a billion monthly users, is constantly used to share content that disrupts family structures and social relations.
“The decision to ban was made today, and relevant authorities are currently addressing the technical issues,” she said, without divulging the specifics.
Nepali Congress Party leader Gagan Thapa, however, disagreed with the decision saying that translates to stifling freedom of expression.
While he admitted there was widespread abuse of social platforms, he called for a more sober approach to regulate them.
“Regulation is necessary to discourage those who abuse social media, but shutting down social media in the name of regulation is completely wrong,” he said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
TikTok has come under intense scrutiny in recent months over data privacy and some countries have put measures in place to curb its use.
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TikTok in Kenya
Two months ago, the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) asked TikTok to disable the live feature in the country until they could ascertain that no community guidelines were violated.
KFCB acting CEO Joel Wamalwa on Friday said this formed part of their discussions with the TikTok leadership in a bid to ensure the platform is not used to promote sexual content.
"The danger is it could be a minor who has accessed such a feature because many parents have issued their gadgets to their teenagers. So they will be doing that live program behind their parents’ backs.
“We have demanded that the live feature be disabled until they (TikTok) ascertain all the credentials originating from Kenya…The live sessions start between 10pm and 3am. TikTok has to tailor their algorithms to focus more resources on Kenya during that period,” he said.
Wamalwa added that they had requested TikTok to ensure live sessions violating community guidelines do not run for more than a minute and that the accounts are disabled immediately.
The discussion caught the attention of President William Ruto who then held a meeting with TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew to discuss how content on the platform could be regulated to adhere to community guidelines.
Through a statement, the Head of State emphasized the need to ensure TikTok content is clean and palatable, amid concerns that the platform was being used to promote different vices after dark.
Ruto said Kenya would work with TikTok in reviewing content and also highlighted the company’s plan to set up an office in Kenya.
“Kenya will work with the short-form video hosting service TikTok in reviewing and monitoring its content to ensure that it adheres to the agreed community guidelines and standards.
“It is our commitment that we bring up our children in the right environment,” said the President.