Nepal Bans TikTok, Says App Disrupts “Social Harmony”

Nepal’s government announced the immediate ban of the popular social media app TikTok on Monday, citing concerns over “social harmony.” Narayan Prakash Saud, Nepal’s Foreign Minister, articulated the decision following a Cabinet meeting, stating, “The government has decided to ban TikTok as it was necessary to regulate the use of the social media platform that was disrupting social harmony, goodwill and flow of indecent materials.”


TikTok’s Impact on Nepalese Society


Rekha Sharma, Nepal’s Minister for Communications and Information Technology, stressed the negative effects of TikTok content on the country’s social fabric. “Content shared on the app was responsible for disturbing social harmony, family structure and family relations,” Sharma explained. The decision aligns with Nepal’s ongoing efforts to control digital content, reflecting broader concerns about the influence of social media on societal values and norms.


Global Pressure on TikTok


Nepal’s ban is part of a growing global trend of scrutinising TikTok. Various countries, including the United States, Canada, and members of the European Union, have limited access to TikTok, mainly on government devices, due to national security concerns. These actions are grounded in fears about Chinese government access to user data and TikTok’s potential role in spreading disinformation.

It hasn’t been said what specific incidents triggered Nepal’s decision or whether TikTok had failed to comply with Nepal’s regulatory requests. The company has not immediately responded to inquiries for comment. TikTok, owned by China’s ByteDance, has consistently denied allegations of sharing data with the Chinese government, yet such assurances have not allayed international apprehensions.



International Context of TikTok Bans


TikTok’s ban in Nepal follows similar actions in other countries. Notably, India banned TikTok citing national security concerns, while Afghanistan’s Taliban leadership and Pakistan have also prohibited the app for various reasons, including the protection of youth and objections to “immoral” content. These bans reflect a broader unease about the role of social media in national security and public morality.


TikTok’s Data Privacy and Security


TikTok’s challenges are not just content-related controversies. The core of international concern revolves around the potential for user data to be accessed by the Chinese government. This issue has led to numerous investigations, seeking to evaluate the credibility of these threats. While TikTok maintains its stance on data privacy, the legal landscape in China, which allows government access to company-held data, continues to raise doubts.


Nepal’s Tightened Control on Social Media


Beyond TikTok, the Nepalese government has introduced stringent regulations for social media platforms. These include mandatory registration, the establishment of liaison offices, and adherence to local tax laws.

The Nepalese government has also introduced a detailed list of prohibitions for social media users, targeting posts that include hate speech, misinformation, or content related to terrorism. Nevertheless, some journalists and activists in Nepal regard these regulations as efforts to restrict free speech.