Nepal bans TikTok over “social harmony” fears

The Nepalese government has decided to ban TikTok, claiming the app negatively impacts society.

According to the government cabinet, which decided to ban the app in a meeting on Monday (November 13th), the popular Chinese-owned social network is misused in Nepal as a vehicle of hate speech and cybercrime.

The video sharing app has a negative impact on “social harmony,” it said, while 1,647 cases of cybercrime were also reported on the platform over the past four years, local media has reported.

It's not clear when the ban will be enforced, but Nepal’s Minister for Communications and Information Technology Rekha Sharma told the news agency Reuters that “colleagues are working on closing it technically.”

Internet service providers have been asked to shut down the app and some have already complied.

Members of the opposition have criticized the move, with Deputy Secretary-General of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) Pradeep Gyawali saying effective regulation of social media was needed rather than control.

“Banning networks like TikTok would not stop the production and dissemination of harmful content,” Gyawalli said in a statement, noting “an increasing trend of using VPNs and other means to access such apps.”

The ban was announced despite talks between representatives of TikTok and Nepalese authorities earlier this week, according to The Kathmandu Post.

The decision comes shortly after the government introduced legislation requiring social media platforms operating in Nepal to set up their liaison offices in the country within three months to tackle what it said was growing user complaints.

Authorities also said that it could ban any platforms that weren't properly registered with the government.

Cybernews has reached out to TikTok for comment. The company has previously said that similar bans were “misguided.”

Nepal will join its neighbor India and a handful of other countries that have an outright ban on TikTok for all users. Some countries in Europe, as well as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Taiwan, and the US, have restrictions in place for TikTok use on government devices.

Montana is the only state in the US that has banned TikTok for all users, but the ban is due to take effect on January 1st, 2024 and has been challenged in court.

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