Taliban Announces Countrywide TikTok Ban Due to 'Immoral' Effects on Youth

Afghanistan is the latest country to enforce a national TikTok ban, courtesy of the Taliban.

The move was announced Thursday in a tweet published by Taliban spokesman Inamullah Samangani, who said the decision was made at the discretion of The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology because TikTok "misleads the younger generation."

The South Korean multiplayer battle video game PUBG, which is short for PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and a subsidiary of the company Krafton was also banned.

It remains unclear when the ban will go into effect and whether or not it's permanent.

Samangani said the bans help "prevent as much as possible the publication of a channel that publishes immoral material and programs."

Taliban TikTok
The Taliban ordered a ban against video-sharing app TikTok and the survival-shooter PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) video game on Thursday, April 21, insisting they were leading Afghanistan's youth astray. Above, the TikTok logo can be seen on a mobile phone. Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

Bloomberg reported Thursday that the decision occurred during a cabinet meeting Wednesday and is the first time the militant group has banned an app since they came back to power last year.

The move accompanies a "religious policing campaign" that includes suspending high school education for girls, forcing government workers to grow beards, and ordering taxi drivers to not allow women to travel more than 43 miles without a male family member.

Samangani told Bloomberg that TikTok, which operates under Chinese company ByteDance, includes "filthy content not consistent with Islamic laws."

"We've received a lot of complaints about how the TikTok app and the PUBG game are wasting people's time," he added. "The ministry of communications and information technology was ordered to remove the apps from internet servers and make them inaccessible to everyone in Afghanistan."

Newsweek reached out to Samangani for comment.

The Financial Express reported that youthful internet users have contributed towards online growth in Afghanistan, where about 9 million users browse the web and utilize apps. Almost two-thirds of the country's approximate 39 million people are 25 years old or younger.

Datareportal, which publishes data reports and trends on countries worldwide, said Afghanistan's population increased by 913,000, or about 2.3 percent between 2021 and 2022. A little over 51 percent of the population is male. The median age is 19 years, while children 5 to 12 years compose the largest age group demographic in the nation with 21.3 percent.

While internet users in Afghanistan increased by about 603,000 between last year and this year, it is estimated that 31.07 million Afghans—or over 77 percent of its population—haven't logged on since the beginning of this year, according to Datareportal.

In 2020, the Indian government banned TikTok and numerous other Chinese-based apps for good due to what officials contributed to data mining that left citizens compromised, the BBC reported at the time.

According to The Sun, Indonesia and Bangladesh instituted temporary bans of the social media platform in recent years, each citing rising pornography and gambling rates—in addition to cultural or religious beliefs specific to each nation. The bans were lifted when TikTok agreed to better regulate its content. Pakistan also tried on four separate occasions to impose and keep TikTok bans, but each one was ultimately rescinded.

Newsweek reached out to TikTok, ByteDance and Krafton, the subsidiary for PUBG, for comment.