Earlier this week, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said in a statement that due to a number of complaints from “different segments of society against immoral/indecent content on the video sharing application TikTok”, it has issued instructions to block the popular video-sharing app.
This comes after a final warning to TikTok was issued in July over explicit content posted on the platform. PTA says TikTok was given “considerable time to respond and comply with” instructions for development of an effective mechanism for proactive moderation of “unlawful online content” but TikTok “failed to fully comply” with the regulator’s instructions.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister of Pakistan on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill tweeted that several parents complained against the app on the Prime Minister Portal and said that their young children are being misled by the app’s content, which is against our religion and culture. One is bewildered why these parents felt the need to complain to the state regarding an app being used by their children instead of stopping them from using this app and limiting and monitoring their technology usage.
It is the duty of parents to keep an eye on their children’s activities. We have seen that most parents give tablets or cell phones to children at a very young age and do not control what they see or do. Instead of encouraging their children to read books or play outdoor games or indulge in other healthy activities, a lot of parents worldwide give their children access to the internet and gadgets when even tech giants like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have a very strict policy for their children when it comes to technology. According to Business Insider, Gates, the former CEO of Microsoft, implemented a cap on screen time in 2007 when his daughter started developing an unhealthy attachment to a video game. He also did not let his children get cell phones until they turned 14. Zuckerberg wants his daughters August and Maxima to spend time reading books of all kinds instead of getting lost in technology at a young age.
This is what these parents should have also done instead of asking the state to ban an app that is not just popular but has made money for many of its users. TikTok is an app that is used a lot by lower middle class or poorer sections of our society. A lot of Pakistani TikTok stars have now made it big due to their huge following on this platform. They are earning their livelihoods due to their popularity on TikTok. It is a platform where they display their talent. It is unfortunate that we have now banned an app that is being used for earning livelihoods in a country plagued by unemployment.
Moral policing is something we should all be way off. Who would have thought that a biscuit advertisement with a few dance sequences would cause such controversy that the regulatory authority would issue an advisory to advertisers on how to make ads for their products? On October 5, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) issued an advisory for broadcasters and advertisers, which says: “It has been observed with concerns that themes of advertisements of ordinary consumer products like biscuits, surf, etc. being aired on satellite TV channels are not corresponding with the disposition of these products.” This led to some channels pulling the add off air.
It is time that we stop regulating people’s lives, what they see, and their creativity. People need to express themselves in different ways and they should be allowed to do so as long as they are not breaking any rules or endangering someone’s life, including their own. Regulations lead to more censorship. We certainly do not need more of it.