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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Pakistan bans Tinder, Grindr and 3 other apps over ‘immoral’ content

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Pakistan said on Tuesday it has blocked Tinder, Grindr and three other dating apps for not adhering to local laws, its latest move to curb online platforms deemed to be disseminating “immoral content”. Pakistan, the second largest Muslim-majority country in the world after Indonesia, is an Islamic nation where extra-marital relationships and homosexuality are illegal.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) said it has sent notices to the management of the five apps, “keeping in view the negative effects of immoral/indecent content streaming.”

PTA said the notices issued to Tinder, Grindr, Tagged, Skout and SayHi sought the removal of “dating services” and moderation of live streaming content in accordance with local laws.

The companies did not respond to the notices within the stipulated time, the regulator added.

Tinder, Tagged, Skout and Grindr did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Reuters was unable to contact SayHi for comment. Tinder, a globally popular dating app, is owned by Match Group (MTCH.O) while Tagged and Skout are owned by the Meet Group (MEET.O).

Grindr, which describes itself as a social networking and online dating application for LGBT people, was cleared to be sold by a Chinese company this year to an investor group called San Vicente Acquisition for $620 million. Data from analytics firm Sensor Tower shows Tinder has been downloaded more than 440,000 times in Pakistan within the last 12 months. Grindr, Tagged and SayHi had each been downloaded about 300,000 times and Skout 100,000 times in that same period.

Critics say Pakistan, using recent digital legislation, has sought to rein in free expression on the internet, blocking or ordering the removal of content deemed immoral as well as news critical of the government and military.

In July, Pakistan issued a “final warning” to short-form video app TikTok over explicit content posted on the platform, while live streaming app Bigo Live was blocked for 10 days for the same reason. Pakistani authorities reiterated that concern to TikTok officials in a recent meeting.

Last week, PTA also asked video-sharing platform YouTube to “immediately block vulgar, indecent, immoral, nude and hate speech content for viewing in Pakistan”.

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