KABUL: The Afghan government is set to ban video-sharing platform TikTok and online multi-player game PUBG within the next 3 months, an official confirmed on Tuesday, following a string of bans on content deemed immoral since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last year.
The Taliban announced a ban on both popular apps earlier this year, with the group’s spokesman Inamullah Samangani saying in April that the move was necessary to “prevent the younger generation from being misled.”
Internet access in Afghanistan, along with its youth population, has grown rapidly in recent years, with 10 million users, according to data from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. While more than 63 percent of the country’s population of 40 million are under 25 years old.
Afghan officials agreed on a timeline for the ban over the weekend after a discussion with telecommunication companies and internet service providers in the country, communications and IT ministry spokesperson Anayatullah Alokozai told Arab News.
“After a series of meetings that we had with telecommunications companies, the companies promised in the latest meeting on Saturday that they will close TikTok in one month and PUBG game in three months,” Alokozai said on Tuesday.
The upcoming ban on TikTok is likely the Taliban’s attempt to curtail dissent, Afghan journalist Abdulhaq Omeri told Arab News.
“TikTok users have recently increased in Afghanistan. People criticize the actions of the Taliban's government in live videos and short clips. Through banning TikTok, the Taliban want to stop them,” he said.
In South Asia, TikTok and PUBG are currently banned in India. The former was also briefly banned in Pakistan last year when Islamabad called on the platform to control content deemed immoral and indecent.
Omeri said “it is impossible for the Taliban to succeed in banning TikTok and PUBG,” as similar moves in other countries were not effective with people circumventing the ban with the help of VPNs.
But some Afghans say the ban could be a good thing for the younger generation.
“PUBG and TikTok are a threat to the youth’s future as most of them are having difficulties in their studies and are facing mental health issues,” Omeri said.
Manizha Khan, an education specialist from Kabul, pointed to how some users had spent too much time on the game and “become very loud and rude.”
“I would be very happy if PUBG is banned because it is extremely addictive and promotes violence and abuse among the youth,” Khan told Arab News.
She lamented the TikTok ban, however, as she has been using the app to lift up her spirits, through listening to interpretation of the Holy Quran and watching cooking videos.
“I personally use TikTok for daily motivation away from social life, which I currently don't have much of,” Khan said. “The ban will take this opportunity from me.”