Federal Information Minister Shibli Faraz announced that Prime Minister Imran Khan is considering banning TikTok, the popular video streaming social media platform, for spreading profanity against Pakistani cultural values.
If Senator Faraz is to be credited, Mr. Khan is increasingly concerned about the increasing incidences of sexual violence. There are two things that need to be brought to Mr. Khan’s attention. First, the prime suspect of the highway rape that rocked the nation has not yet been arrested, despite the fact that the crime was committed on September 9th. Second, access to social media platforms has not been associated with such deviant crimes. At least not in a scientific study.
Why TikTok ban in Pakistan
Such a blanket assumption against social media is a little surprising for the head of the PTI, who is said to be media aware and has shown that he has adapted better to social media than the others. Mr. Khan perhaps shows his age through this ongoing concern about the effects of social media on the mind.
It is perhaps worth noting that US President Donald Trump, who forced TikTok to sell its US operation, expressed greater concern about the Chinese government’s access to US citizens’ data than about any moral threat they pose could.
There is a disturbing tendency against those in power, usually men over a certain age, whose instinctive response is to forbid things they do not understand. Mr. Khan has been accused of doing some wild things in his salad days. You are probably wrong, but he must know people who got upset. Now that old age has crept in on them, how many have repented? More importantly, how much wild behavior has social media sparked, especially when it wasn’t?
As a governance problem, the question arises whether such bans are feasible. The recommendation to use PEMRA to monitor electronic media appears to be a control mechanism whereby vulgarity can flourish uncontrollably, but the opposition is censored. After all, if TikTok is guilty of vulgarity, it is under the eagle eye of the Chinese authorities, who will not tolerate disagreement.