The Muslim-majority Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan has banned TikTok after appeals from non-governmental organisations about the impact of the platform on children’s mental development and overall well-being.
The decision was announced yesterday by the Ministry of Culture, Information, Sport and Youth Policy.
Following an evaluation, the ministry concluded that the platform does not have adequate user controls to prevent children from accessing potentially harmful content.
It also said the platform lacks proper age verification measures for its users.
The ministry also said that TikTok draws users into a virtual realm of short video clips, and after viewing these clips some people attempt to imitate certain videos that pose life-threatening risks.
Such addictive content has been observed to have an adverse impact on the emotional well-being of the younger generation, it said.
TikTok has recently been facing increasing limits and bans on a global scale.
Pakistani authorities have temporarily banned TikTok at least four times since October 2020, citing concerns that the app promotes immoral content.
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan banned TikTok in 2022 on the grounds of protecting youths from “being misled.”
In 2020, India imposed a ban on TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps over privacy and security concerns. The ban came shortly after a clash between Indian and Chinese troops at a disputed Himalayan border killed 20 Indian soldiers and injured dozens.
Many Western countries are also concerned about TikTok’s security and the platform’s ties to China.
Australia recently become the latest country to ban TikTok from federal government devices. The United States, Canada, Britain and New Zealand have all taken similar steps against TikTok in recent weeks.
TikTok disputes accusations that it collects more user data than other social media companies and has called the bans “basic misinformation,” saying these had been decided with “no deliberation or evidence.”
TikTok is owned by the Chinese technology company Bytedance but it insists it is run independently and does not share data with the Chinese government. It is currently carrying out a project to store U.S. user data in Texas, which it says will put it out of China’s reach.