Banning Tiktok

Wrong solution for a serious problem

Federal Information Minister Shibli Faraz disclosed that Prime Minister Imran Khan is considering banning TikTok, the popular video streaming social media platform, because it is spreading obscenity contrary to Pakistani cultural values. If Senator Faraz is to be credited, Mr Khan is increasingly worried by the increasing incidents of sexual violence. Mr Khan needs to be made aware of two things. First, the prime suspect in the Motorway gang-rape, which has convulsed the nation, has not yet been arrested, even though the crime was committed on September 9. Second, access to social media platforms has not been linked to such deviant crimes, at least not in any scientific study.

Such a blanket assumption against social media is a little surprising in the chief of the PTI, which is supposed to be media-savvy and which has shown that it has better adapted to the social media than the rest. Mr Khan is perhaps showing his age by this persistent worry of the effect of social media on minds. It is perhaps worth noting that US President Donald Trump, who has forced TikTok to sell its US operation, expressed greater concern about the Chinese government’s access to US citizen’s data than about any moral threat that it might pose.

There is a distressing tendency against those in power, usually males above a certain age, whose instinctive reaction is to ban things they do not understand. Mr Khan has been accused of doing some wild things in his salad days. They are presumably untrue, but he must know contemporaries who had run riot. Now that age has crept up on them, how many have repented? More significant, how much wild behaviour was prompted by social media, especially in the era when there wasn’t any? As a problem of governance, there is the issue of whether such bans are feasible. The recommendation that PEMRA be used to monitor the electronic media seems a control mechanism, under which vulgarity might flourish unchecked, but opposition will be censored. After all, if TikTok is guilty of vulgarity, it is under the eagle eye of the Chinese authorities, which do not tolerate any dissent.

Source: Pakistan Today

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