Pakistan has recently cracked down on dating apps for promoting “indecent” and “immoral content.” The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) called for the “removal of dating services” and stricter moderation of live streams “in line with local law” from Tinder, Grindr, Tagged, Skout and SayHi.
The country has the largest second Muslim majority in the world and homosexuality and extra-marital relationships are punishable crimes. According to Reuters, Tinder was downloaded 440, 000 times in the last year in Pakistan, while Grindr, Tagged and SayHi had each been downloaded about 300,000 times and Skout 100,000 times in that same period.
Usama Khilji, director of BoloBhi, a Pakistani digital rights advocacy group, told Reuters that “dating apps are a soft target,” and that “blocking content deemed to offend decency and morality was a way of pressuring social media companies into complying with government requests for user data and censorship of content deemed critical of state policies.
Grindr, which is a social networking and online dating application for LGBT people said it was disappointed with the ban, telling Reuters, “We are deeply disappointed by the … decision to ban Grindr and other dating apps that allow Pakistani citizens to connect with others on our platforms, and said the company was, “exploring ways that we can be of service to the LGBTQ community in the region”.
Grindr did not mention any plans to work alongside with the PTA to get the app back up and running in the country.
In a statement to Al Jazeera, Tinder said, “We welcome the opportunity to discuss our product and moderation efforts with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and look forward to a meaningful conversation.”
The PTA has also issued warnings to TikTok and YouTube about inappropriate content on the video-sharing platforms. The latter was previously banned for three years in Pakistan up until 2016.