Pakistan on Tuesday blocked access to Tinder and several other dating apps in a bid to control “immoral” and “indecent” content, just days after regulators threatened to shut down YouTube for similar reasons.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said it had barred users from accessing Tinder, Grindr, SayHi, Tagged and Skout after the social networking apps failed to “moderate… content in accordance” with Pakistan’s laws.
The PTA said the ban addressed the “negative effects of immoral/indecent content”.
Shahzad Ahmad, director of digital rights group Bytes For All, slammed the PTA’s “moral policing”.
“If adults choose to be on an app, it is not for the state to dictate whether they should use it or not,” Ahmad told AFP.
He described the ban as “a completely ridiculous move” that people would find ways to circumvent.
The PTA said the apps could request to have their blocks lifted if they show they are “moderating the indecent/immoral content through meaningful engagement”.
The regulator did not specify what it meant by that engagement.
In a statement, Tinder said it would “welcome the opportunity to discuss our product and moderation efforts with the (PTA) and look forward to a meaningful conversation.”
Last week, the PTA asked YouTube to immediately block all videos they consider “objectionable” from being accessed in the country.
The demand was criticised by rights campaigners who fear creeping censorship and control of Pakistan’s internet and printed media.
And in July, authorities issued a final warning to Chinese-owned social media app TikTok, ordering it to filter any obscene content.
The Muslim-majority country has several existing or proposed restrictions that target free speech, usually in the name of Islam or national security.