Five apps have been banned for breaking local laws
Five apps have been banned for breaking local laws

Tinder, Grindr and three other dating apps have been banned in Pakistan for disseminating “immoral content”.

The government issued notices to Tinder, Grindr, Tagged, Skout and SayHi to remove the dating services.

Extra-marital relationships and homosexuality are illegal in Pakistan, the second largest Muslim-majority country in the world.

The country’s internet regulator said the companies had not responded to it within the stipulated time.

A Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) spokesman told BBC Urdu that as a consequence, the decision had been made to bring the management of these platforms into a “moral and legal realm”.

The watchdog has said, however, that it might reconsider the action if the apps agree to moderate what it views to be unethical and obscene material on their platforms.

A Tinder spokeswoman said it invests significant resources into monitoring and removing inappropriate content.

“We welcome the opportunity to discuss our product and moderation efforts with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and look forward to a meaningful conversation,” she added.

Grindr, Tagged and Skout did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Reuters news agency and the BBC were unable to contact SayHi for comment.

Data from analytics firm Sensor Tower indicates 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, Reuters reported.

Internet blocks

Critics say Pakistan 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.

“These latest blocks reveal that the government is ramping up its efforts to control the flow of ideas on the internet,” Ray Walsh, digital privacy expert at ProPrivacy, said.

“Pakistani citizens will be used to oppressive levels of censorship to prevent citizens from accessing LGBTQ content, nudity, and anything else considered immoral, and due to the fact that extramarital affairs are also illegal, dating sites are now being targeted as the government feels these could be fuelled by online dating apps”.

In July, Pakistan issued a “final warning” to TikTok over explicit content posted on the platform.

It has also banned access to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in recent years.

Last week, the 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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