Taliban orders TikTok and PUBG ban in entertainment crackdown

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The Taliban ordered a ban on video-sharing app TikTok and survival shooter PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) on Thursday, insisting they were misleading Afghan youth.

Phone apps are popular among Afghans, who have found themselves with few outlets for entertainment since hardline Islamists returned to power last year and banned music, movies and soap operas. The apps “misled the younger generation,” the cabinet said in a statement, adding that the telecommunications ministry had been ordered to shut them down.

He also ordered the ministry to stop TV stations from airing “immoral material”, although little was aired beyond news and religious content. Despite promising a softer version of the harsh Islamist rule that characterized their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban have slowly introduced suffocating restrictions on social life, especially for women.

Most girls’ secondary schools remain closed, and women are barred from many government jobs and from traveling abroad — or even between cities — unless accompanied by an adult male relative. The previous government of now ousted President Ashraf Ghani tried to ban PUBG, a battle royale first-person shooter reminiscent of “The Hunger Games” book and movie series.

Just over nine million people have internet access across Afghanistan, a country of about 38 million people, according to figures released in January by DataReportal, an independent data collector. There are around four million social media users, with Facebook being the most popular.

Chinese-owned TikTok has already been shut down twice in neighboring Pakistan over allegedly “indecent” content. During their previous rule, the feared Taliban religious police banned recreational activities such as kite flying and pigeon racing.

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