A view of TikTok logos in the TikTok office during a press tour of Bytedance and TikTok's offices in Singapore, 29 August 2023. EFE/EPA/FILE/HOW HWEE YOUNG

Kathmandu, Nepal (EFE).-

The Nepal government announced on Monday its decision to ban the popular Chinese social media app TikTok for allegedly disrupting social harmony and promoting personal hatred.

The government spokesperson Rekha Sharma told a press briefing that the decision was taken by the Cabinet on Sunday and it would be implemented immediately.

“Although freedom of speech is a basic right, the government has decided to ban TikTok because there is an increasing tendency of disrupting social harmony,” Sharma said.

The exact date from which the ban would come into effect is yet to be announced.

Ministry of Communication and Information Technology spokesperson Netra Prasad Subedi told EFE that they would make necessary arrangements to implement the Cabinet’s decision.

The move, however, has evoked criticism from the public.

Lawmaker Gagan Thapa of the Nepali Congress, allied to the ruling party, said on his Facebook page that regulation was necessary to discourage those who abuse social media, but shutting down social media in the name of regulation was completely wrong.

“By deciding to close Tiktok, the government has taken the opposite step,” said Thapa. “It was seen that the government’s intention was to stifle freedom of expression and individuality. The government should correct this step.”

“Nepal government’s announcement to ban TikTok, citing concerns about its negative impact on social harmony and the environment, apparently lacks evidence-based reasoning,” journalist Krishna Acharya wrote on his Facebook page.

“I view this decision as whimsical and anticipate it won’t last long, given the absence of substantial data or research supporting the ban,” he added.

The decision comes days after Nepal’s Cabinet passed the rules to regulate social media.

On Nov. 9, Nepal issued a social media regulation that includes a list of 19 things not to do for social media users.

It includes a prohibition on creating social media accounts with fake identities and sharing or making comments through it, posting hateful or misleading content, among other things.

Moreover, social networks such as Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and Youtube also need to open offices in the Himalayan country or risk being shut down.

Nepal’s TikTok ban follows in the footsteps of several countries such as neighboring India, although for very different reasons.

New Delhi banned the popular short-video platform in mid-2020, along with several other applications developed in China, due to a diplomatic crisis with Beijing over a border clash between the two countries’ security forces in the western Himalayas, in which at least 20 Indian soldiers died and more than 70 were wounded. EFE



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