Nepal says it will ban TikTok, adding that social harmony and goodwill are being disturbed by “misuse” of the popular video-sharing app and that there is rising demand to control it.
Nepal’s Minister for Communications and Information Technology Rekha Sharma said the decision to ban TikTok was taken at a cabinet meeting on Monday.
Keep readinglist of 4 items
Sharma said the decision was made because TikTok was consistently used to share content that “disturbs social harmony and disrupts family structures and social relations”.
“Colleagues are working on closing it technically,” she said, without specifying what triggered the ban.
TikTok has already been either partially or completely banned by other countries, with many citing security concerns.
More than 1,600 TikTok-related cybercrime cases have been registered over the last four years in Nepal, according to local media reports.
Nepal Telecom Authority chief Purushottam Khanal said that internet service providers have been asked to close the app. “Some have already closed while others are doing it later today [Monday],” Khanal told Reuters news agency.
TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter. It has previously said such bans are “misguided” and that they are based on “misconceptions”.
Hours after the decision was made public, videos on the ban had thousands of views on TikTok.
Opposition leaders in Nepal criticised the move, saying that it lacked “effectiveness, maturity and responsibility”.
“There are many unwanted materials in other social media also. What must be done is to regulate and not restrict them,” said Pradeep Gyawali, former foreign minister and a senior leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist).
Gagan Thapa, leader of the Nepali Congress party that is part of the ruling coalition, said the government’s intention seems to be to “stifle freedom of expression”.
“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.
The decision comes days after Nepal introduced a directive requiring social media platforms operating in the country to set up offices.
TikTok, with around a billion monthly users, is run by the Beijing-based parent company ByteDance and is the sixth most used social platform in the world, according to the We Are Social marketing agency.
Multiple countries have sought to tighten controls on the app for allegedly breaking data rules and for its potentially harmful impact on youth.
Nepal’s neighbour India banned TikTok along with dozens of other apps by Chinese developers in June 2020, saying that they could compromise national security and integrity.
Another South Asian country, Pakistan, banned the app at least four times over what the country’s government terms its “immoral and indecent” content.
Parent company ByteDance rejects critics who accuse it of being under Beijing’s direct control.
Although it lags behind the likes of Meta’s long-dominant trio of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, its growth among young people far outstrips its competitors.