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Nepal bans Chinese app TikTok citing ‘negative effects’ on social harmony: Report

Nepali MPs criticised the government’s move, calling it a restriction of free speech online

TikTok blocked

What’s the news: Nepal on November 13, 2023 banned Chinese social media platform TikTok due to its “negative effects” on social harmony, reported Hindustan Times. After India, UK, US, Pakistan and the European Union, Nepal is yet another region to take this step, however the country’s MPs have criticised the move as a restriction on speech online.

As per the report, many in the Nepali community had accused the platform of encouraging hate speech. Representatives of the Nepal Police’s Cyber Bureau, the Home Ministry and TikTok held a meeting in the second week of November, concluding that the ban will be implemented by a specific deadline “after the completion of technical preparations.”

Nepal’s MPs criticise the ban: Gagan Thapa, MP in the House of Representatives (Kathmandu-4) and Nepali Congress General Secretary stated that the Nepal government took this step to “stifle” free speech and individuality.

“By deciding to close Tiktok, the government has taken the opposite step. Regulation is necessary to discourage those who abuse social media, but shutting down social media in the name of regulation is completely wrong. It is more a matter of the government’s intention than whether or not to shut down a social network. It was seen that the government’s intention was to stifle ‘freedom of expression and individuality’. The government should correct this step, but nothing works,” he said on X, the microblogging platform.

Similarly, MP Shisir Khanal, former Education Minister and MP, said on X (formerly Twitter), “The decision to close Tik Tok is wrong. Misuse of social media (and other media) should be regulated. But to say that social harmony has deteriorated and nationalism has weakened due to only one platform is not understanding the development of technology. Tiktok is one medium among many. The government tried to follow the authoritarian path. Such decisions stifle freedom of expression. The government should withdraw this decision immediately.”

Nikhil’s Take: Regarding the ban on Chinese apps, Nikhil Pahwa, Founder of MediaNama, said that India seems to have a long-term approach towards reducing its dependence on China for technology and digital related imports. Referring to the 2020 Chinese app ban, he said that while the move was effective and painless, banning of social media apps is a disproportionate act of censorship of free speech. As such, he stressed the need to protect carriers of speech to protect the right of freedom of speech and expression.

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How has TikTok responded? While TikTok mentioned nothing about the Nepal ban on its website, the social media platform put out a post “in light of misinformation and mischaracterization about how the TikTok platform actually operates.” While the post spoke in context of the Israel-Hamas war, here’s what it said with regard to claims on misinformation on the website:

“TikTok does not allow inaccurate, misleading, or false content that may cause significant harm to individuals or society, regardless of intent. Significant harm includes physical, psychological, or societal harm, and property damage. We remove harmful misinformation and work with IFCN-accredited fact-checking organizations who support over 50 languages, including Arabic and Hebrew… We also launched an in-app intervention so that when people search for terms related to the conflict, we remind them that information about rapidly changing events may not always be accurate, and provide them with easy access to authoritative information from outlets like Reuters and AFP FactCheck.”

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Written By

I'm interested in the shaping and strengthening of rights in the digital space. I cover cybersecurity, platform regulation, gig worker economy. In my free time, I'm either binge-watching an anime or off on a hike.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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