TikTok Faces Global Backlash as Nepal Joins Growing List of Nations Banning the Social Media Giant Amidst Rising Concerns

Nepal, a nation with a population of approximately 30 million, has recently joined the growing list of countries that have imposed a ban on TikTok, the popular social media app boasting over a billion users worldwide.

TikTok, a revolutionary short-form video platform owned by ByteDance, has transformed the social media landscape over the past few years.

However, concerns about the app’s inadequate regulation and its failure to address problematic content have motivated several countries to take action against TikTok.

The ban in Nepal reflects a broader trend of increasing concerns and regulatory actions surrounding the platform.

The Motivation Behind the Ban

The government in Nepal announced on Monday, 13 November 2023, its decision to ban the popular social media platform TikTok for reasons associated with the disruption of social harmony within the nation.

This decision came shortly after the Himalayan nation’s cabinet of ministers enacted the “Directives on the Operation of Social Networking 2023”, requiring social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok to establish liaison offices in Nepal.

This move aims to increase autonomy over user concerns and remove objectionable content more effectively.

Officials pointed to the increased prevalence of content that they claimed is fueling religious hatred, violence, and sexual abuse.

Such content has led to real-world conflicts, forcing the implementation of curfews and the mobilization of law enforcement.

Efforts to Reach out to TikTok in Vain

Nepal’s Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Rekha Sharma, expressed concerns about the impact of social media, particularly TikTok, on the country’s “social harmony, family structure, and family relations”.

Following the approval of the ban by the cabinet of ministers, Sharma stated that the decision would be “effective immediately”.

However, the practical implementation of the ban by telecommunications has yet to be put into effect, and the timeline for users losing access to the app still remains uncertain.

Nepali officials have expressed frustration over TikTok’s lack of responsiveness to address concerns regarding troubling content despite repeated efforts to reach out to TikTok. Adviser to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Narendra K.C., revealed that the most recent attempt to engage with TikTok just nine days ago similarly yielded no results.

This lack of cooperation from TikTok prompted the decision to implement the ban.

Home Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha added that while an alternative measure involving the individual removal of problematic videos is possible, this process is technologically challenging and resource-intensive for authorities. Therefore, the decision to ban the app itself was deemed a more effective solution.

In addition to concerns related to domestic harmony, as exemplified by Nepal’s stance, other countries have raised distinct issues with the platform.

For instance, India’s implementation of a ban on TikTok alongside numerous other Chinese applications in 2020 due to concerns over data privacy and national security amid rising tensions between India and China.

The application has also faced heightened scrutiny and tighter regulations in the United States, Europe, and Canada due to concerns about the potential sharing of users’ sensitive data with the Chinese government.

TikTok faces a challenging future amid increasing global scrutiny and regulatory actions. Once celebrated for its rapid rise, the app now grapples with concerns ranging from data privacy to national security, prompting various countries to reassess its presence within their borders.

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