Nepal’s Stance on TikTok: A Move for Social Stability Nepal has recently announced a ban on the Chinese social media giant TikTok, citing its content as a threat to the nation’s social harmony. This bold move aligns with the country’s recent regulations requiring social media companies to establish local liaison offices.
Global Scrutiny on TikTok Intensifies TikTok, boasting approximately a billion monthly users, has faced bans in several countries, including India. The United States and the United Kingdom have also taken steps against the app, with Montana leading the charge as the first state to implement a ban and the UK Parliament restricting its use on its network.
Government Concerns and Opposition Voices Communications and Information Technology Minister Rekha Sharma expressed to BBC Nepali that TikTok was spreading malicious content, prompting an immediate ban. Telecom authorities have been instructed to enforce this decision. However, Gagan Thapa, a leading figure in the Nepali Congress and part of the coalition government, criticized the ban, viewing it as an infringement on free expression and advocating for regulation rather than prohibition.
Data Privacy and International Scrutiny The global community has scrutinized TikTok over concerns of potential data sharing with the Chinese government. ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, has consistently denied these allegations. TikTok’s response to Nepal’s recent ban remains pending.
TikTok’s Influence Among Nepalese Youth Despite trailing behind platforms like Facebook and Instagram, TikTok’s popularity, especially among young users in Nepal, has seen exponential growth. Reports indicate that over 1,600 TikTok-related cybercrime incidents have been recorded in Nepal in the past four years. The platform ranks as the third most used social media site in the country, particularly favored by the 16 to 24 age group.
Global Precedents: Bans and Restrictions The ban in Nepal is not isolated, as Pakistan has imposed temporary restrictions on the app several times since 2020, and Indonesia recently shut down its online shopping service.
Implications of the Ban Nepal’s decision to ban TikTok reflects a growing trend of countries taking measures to regulate social media platforms, balancing the protection of social harmony with the preservation of free speech and expression. As digital platforms continue to evolve, the debate over regulation versus censorship remains a pivotal global conversation.