TikTok app which was launched 3 years ago in China has now over 500 million users worldwide. For those who do not know, TikTok is basically a lip-syncing short video sharing platform where users can watch and produce their own quick videos using music, stickers, and animations as filter effects. Aside from being a lip-syncing app, TikTok’s popularity has increased for having act-out memes backed by music and other sound clips, which gets continuously reproduced and remixed among its young users.
But as they say, with great popularity comes great criticism. The TikTok app in the last few months has faced massive criticism from the public. The app is widely used by under-age children which have sparked outrage from parents, privacy and security orgs and followers of the platform.
In India, the issue is widespread as a major chunk of TikTok users, almost 120 million, are based in India. Legal objections have been filed several times in different states of India that the platform encourages pedophilia, hate speech and pornography. Several cases object that the platform has an unsafe environment for children and they can be exploited easily. As a result of these objections, the Indian government is taking severe measures by asking Apple and Google to remove the application from their respective stores.
After India, rumors are circulating that Pakistan may ban the TikTok app as well. But what if I say that banning TikTok is not the answer and we should focus more on regulating it than blocking every new application or technology.
I have discussed a few points here to explain why Pakistan should not follow the footsteps of India and seek other alternatives.
1. It should be regulated not banned
Technology is a neutral platform. It is how we use it decides its impact on ourselves and our surroundings. If we start banning and blocking technology products, our country will miss out on important opportunities. Like we did actually miss out when YouTube was blocked. Instead of banning the app we should focus our efforts on how to regulate the content that is reaching the users. The authorities should ask the app’s owners to add certain restrictions in the platform such as age restriction.
Also, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) and cybercrime wing should collaborate with relevant parties to filter and improve the app experience for Pakistan.
2. A platform where people freely express their talent
TikTok is a platform where people belonging to all age groups post their short lip-syncing or other fun videos to express their talents freely without feeling embarrassed about what people might think about them. Aside from sharing videos on the app, this platform is also a source of fun and entertainment for many users. A lot of TikTok fans use this application to relieve their day-long stress.
Also, TikTok has a vibrant community of users, people are free to express themselves, be different and enjoy it.
3. Establish a dedicated office for Tiktok in Pakistan
When incidents of mob-lynching in India started growing due to fake viral videos shared on WhatsApp, the Indian government demanded relevant authorities to establish a dedicated office. Due to the firm stand which India took WhatsApp hired India’s WhatsApp head and established an office. WhatsApp also quickly released a bunch of features to stop spreading of fake and hate news.
Our government can take a firm stance to figure out a solution.
4. Age restriction must be added
TikTok should integrate age restrictions in its platform so that underage users can only see and publish content restricted to a certain segment. In fact, some of the features can be introduced too as per the age of the user. Every major social media website like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube among others have age restriction options in them to regulate the content flow on their apps properly.
5. Parents should monitor and filter content
Parents should learn and understand the prevalent technologies so that they can monitor and understand what their children are watching and sharing on these platforms. They should try to create an open environment where their children can openly express their fears, troubles, and desires.
Technology has both positive and negative sides to it, and it depends on the people on which aspect they choose to focus on. If we focus on the negative aspects of it and ban it, we will miss out hugely hurting ourselves in the long run. Banning, blocking and shutting down of social platforms is not the answer, regulation is!