On November 15, 2023, the government of Nepal announced a ban on the popular social media platform TikTok in an effort to maintain “social harmony” within the nation. The decision was made without providing specific reasons, but concerns regarding the presence of gambling content, hate speech, and anti-government material on the platform are believed to have contributed to the ban.
The ban comes after Nepalese police began investigating an increase in gambling and hate content on TikTok earlier in the year. Gambling is illegal in Nepal, and the platform provided a means for individuals to engage in these activities. The Cyber Bureau of Nepal Police reported 1,647 cases of cybercrime related to TikTok over the past four years, prompting the government to take action and cut off access to the platform.
TikTok is the third-most-popular social media platform in Nepal, with over 80% of individuals aged between 16 and 24 actively engaging with the app. The ban has led to protests against the government, with accusations of suppressing freedom of speech.
The move highlights a global trend of nations reassessing the impact of social media platforms on society. Discussions surrounding the balance between preserving social harmony and upholding individual freedoms are expected to intensify as Nepalese citizens navigate the implications of the ban.
While Nepal has implemented the ban, other countries have also taken measures to limit TikTok’s reach. Indonesia and India have completely banned the app, the US has attempted to ban it in certain states, and the UK government has prohibited its installation on government-issued devices. However, in Australia, TikTok has found support despite the country’s crackdown on gambling advertising.
The ban on TikTok has sparked a debate on the balance between safeguarding social harmony and preserving freedom of expression. The government’s recent directives on social media regulation, including requiring companies like Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube to establish a physical presence in Nepal, have added to the discourse. The directives also aim to discourage fake IDs, hate speech, defamation, child labor, human trafficking, and the dissemination of fake news and distorted information.
Overall, the government’s actions have ignited discussions on the regulation of digital spaces and the role of technology in shaping public discourse. While the enforcement of these new directives may pose challenges, the government is steadfast in its commitment to regulating social media in Nepal.