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Iraqi government moves to block TikTok

1 min

Iraq’s communications minister has formally requested the country’s Cabinet to block Chinese-owned app TikTok over worries about its societal impact.

The popular short-form video app has a significant user base in Iraq © Mena Today 

Iraq’s communications minister has formally requested the country’s Cabinet to block Chinese-owned app TikTok over worries about its societal impact.

Hiyam Al-Yasiri’s concerns, expressed during a recent press conference, have sparked a nationwide debate on the issue.

The minister told reporters: “I have submitted the request to the Council of Ministers to block TikTok, and I hope it will be considered soon.”

She highlighted what she described as TikTok’s role in “eroding Iraq’s social fabric” and noted a “lack of educational value in the app,” branding it as “purely entertainment focused.”

While it remained uncertain whether the request would be approved or rejected by the Cabinet or when deliberations would commence, any decision would necessitate action from the Iraqi Parliament or Cabinet as it surpassed the authority of the Ministry of Communications.

Al-Yasiri pointed out the need for cooperation from parliamentarians to support the prohibition of apps such as TikTok.

The popular short-form video app has a significant user base in Iraq. According to figures from Chinese tech company ByteDance’s advertising resources, TikTok had 31.95 million users aged 18 and over in Iraq early this year.

Some of Iraq’s more conservative religious factions have accused the platform of undermining societal norms and raised concerns about its impact on youth.

Al-Yasiri’s ban request came after well-known Iraqi Tiktokers, Hussein and his wife Shahinda, were recently assaulted on their way home from work and shot multiple times. While they survived the attack, Shahinda lost an eye.

However, some people have expressed their concerns about the economic implications of banning the app and its potential impact on freedom of expression.

Any ban would likely damage Iraq’s advertising market, especially for small businesses, as many rely on TikTok influencers and other advertising methods on the platform.

Several other countries are already considering banning the platform. Earlier this month, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that would compel TikTok owner ByteDance to divest the social media platform or face a complete ban in America.

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