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On April 16, Samir Ramazanov, a TikToker known under the pseudonym Semka, was detained in Baku, the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported. By a court decision, S. Ramazanov was arrested for 30 days in an administrative order. The day before, Sadig Mirzoyev, the father of 9-year-old TikToker Adam, was also arrested for 30 days. They are residents of the Agjabedi region of Azerbaijan.  The father was brought to justice for his son's obscene statements on the Internet, after several warnings about the inadmissibility of disrespect for public values. As the Interior Ministry explained to the press, the father and son went live on TikTok, during which they repeatedly used obscene language.

Nine days ago, TikToker Rovshan Suleymanov, nicknamed Roşka, was sentenced to administrative arrest for 20 days. Blogger Jasarat Javadov, sentenced to administrative arrest for 30 days. Both were punished for unethical statements on social media.

Eleven days ago, Amrah Maharramov, known by the nickname Maharramoff, was detained. The court issued a decision on arrest for 20 days, for disrespect to society, unethical publications and appeals that "do not correspond to our moral values," Nurlan Aliyev, an employee of the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, explained to the Caucasian Knot.

Mirnamig Miralamzade, under the nickname "Miri", was punished with imprisonment for 30 days, for the same reason. In early February, the father of a teenager who became "famous" for his unethical actions in TikTok, where he performs under the nickname Jalilov, apologized to the Azerbaijani people for his son's actions. According to Nihat Jalilov, the behavior of his son Ali Afiyaddin Jalilov shocked his entire family. The father stated that his son was receiving treatment at a medical facility.

Under the message of apology, readers from Azerbaijan expressed support for strict measures against TikTokers. 

Nabi Yusubov: "It has been necessary to restore order on the Internet for a long time, otherwise there is no honor and no conscience left, even sometimes it becomes a shame from what you have viewed.  Misirkhan Bayramov: "TikTok has become a real toilet. It is time to close it altogether. It is impossible to watch. A mess, a madhouse, a disgrace."

There are condemnations among female TikTokers. In December, a well-known TikToker named Aysun Mirishli under the nickname ”Akhundova_302_" was arrested for three months. According to the Interior Ministry, she is suspected of drug trafficking. In the same month, on the basis of numerous complaints received from users of the TikTok social network, a resident of the capital, Leman Veliyeva, was detained by police officers, Nurlan Aliyev, an employee of the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported. This girl became famous after insulting the national anthem of Azerbaijan on her channel.

The detentions and convictions of TikTokers for 20-30 days of administrative arrest began in Azerbaijan last summer. The greatest activity of law enforcement agencies repressing TikTokers was noticeable in March-April 2024.  None of the detained and punished TikTokers in Azerbaijan disseminated information of a political nature.

According to the information of the Public Association "ICT Market Participants", Instagram is the most widespread social network in the digital market of Azerbaijan. Of the approximately 3.6 million registered users, 50% are under the age of 25, 29% are between the ages of 25 and 35, 13% are between the ages of 35 and 45, and 8% are over 45. The second most popular application is TikTok (3.2 million users).

The prevalence of offensive content on social networks may be explained by the selfish aspirations of the authors. According to the data 1News.az, on average, every thousand likes in TikTok brings the author an income of $ 10 per month. In Azerbaijan, there are TikTokers gaining 100 000 likes, they can earn $1,000 per month. TikTokers are known to earn 5-6 thousand dollars a month.

The spread of immoral statements on the social network, and in TikTok in particular, causes concern and discussion in society. Commenting on the strict measures against TikTokers, sociologist Rashad Askerov said that this platform has become a place for spreading disinformation.  "We need to understand the danger of TikTok, which is also used by young children and schoolchildren. Legal restrictions on access to this network are necessary. The introduction of a rule on access to TikTok by identity card should be considered," the expert believes.

Video blogger Sardar Mammadov agrees that there is an opinion in society about the contamination of TikTok with non-censorship, eroticism, which attracts the attention of readers. However, Mammadov himself believes that if you have the skill and talent, you can compose content without swearing, but gaining millions of views. "My videos are gaining 2-3 million viewers," he added. 

Cybersecurity expert Farid Pardashunas believes that national measures to protect the information sphere from certain content are correct, recalling the US requirement to the Chinese TikTok not to take information about US citizens out of this country. He considers the arrests of TikTokers justified if they violate the law and extort money from citizens. 

Hajibey Heydarli, editor-in-chief of the AzXeber portal, suggests closing TikTok, which has become a distributor of immoral content. He said that the largest number of views in TikTok are for offensive content, drug propaganda and other unacceptable information.

"Content authors increase the level of viewing their performances by raising their voice and insults.  After the offended viewer and her supporters warned the author of the content to prosecute for insults, the latter, an actor, apologized and promised not to resort to immoral statements anymore," G.Heydarli said. 

Commenting on the explanations of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the reasons for punishing TikTokers with unethical statements posted by them, lawyer Khalid Bagirov suggests separating vague socio-moral concepts from specific requirements of the law. Without this, one day "citizens who do not celebrate Novruz in Azerbaijan, who do not want to grieve on the tragic Muslim day of Ashura, may be declared trampling on moral values and punished."

He called social networks a "mirror of society" and urged not to repress TikTokers, but to improve the moral image of young people and educate high moral standards in society.

"This also applies to television, which also reflects the values existing in society. It is necessary to engage in educational work, and not punish the mirror," the expert added.

Continuing the thought of the "Mirror" TV journalist Ceyhun Sabahinoglu (Public TV) said that he looked at the videos most often offered to him by the platform and found that TikTok evaluates the tastes of the user, and in accordance with the tastes offers him materials about travel and English lessons.

The Code of Administrative Offenses of the Republic of Azerbaijan contains the 148th Article on the dissemination of insults in the media and social networks.  The punishment for such an offense ranges from a monetary fine of 2 thousand manats to imprisonment for a period of 6 months. In case of severe consequences from the published insult, the term of imprisonment may be 2 years.

For the first time, a restrictive measure against TikTok was introduced in Azerbaijan on September 14, 2023. The official reason was the dissemination of information overshadowing the successes of our army, containing military secrets and aimed at creating a false opinion in society. And 5 days later, the daily counter-terrorism operation (CTO) began in Karabakh on September 19-20.  After the completion of the project, the ban was lifted.

Posting offensive content in TikTok is a problem all over the world.  This platform itself identifies and removes offensive and dangerous video content. According to the data for 2023 published by the platform, more than 390 thousand videos were deleted in Azerbaijan in the first quarter of 2023.

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