Nepal has banned TikTok, the government said on Monday, in a bid to preserve "social harmony."
Communications Minister Rekha Sharma said the decision had been made at a cabinet meeting on Monday and that internet providers had already started blocking access to the Chinese video-sharing app.
"The government has decided to ban TikTok as it was necessary to regulate the use of the social media platform that was disrupting social harmony, goodwill and flow of indecent materials," Saud said.
Just hours after the announcement, videos about the ban had raked up thousands of views on TikTok.
Lawmakers call for regulation, not restrictions
The move has attracted criticism from both inside and outside of Nepal's ruling coalition.
"There are many unwanted materials in other social media also," said Pradeep Gyawali, former foreign minister and a senior leader of the opposition Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist).
"What must be done is to regulate and not restrict them."
Gagan Thapa, who leads the largest party in government, the Nepali Congress, accused his fellow lawmakers of trying to "stifle freedom of expression."
"Regulation is necessary to discourage those who abuse social media, but shutting down social media in the name of regulation is completely wrong," Thapa said.
Nepal's neighbor India banned TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps in June 2020, arguing that they could compromise national security and integrity.
TikTok has previously called such bans "misguided" and claimed that they are based on "misconceptions."
zc/lo (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)