Tik Tok Has Huge Indian User Base, but Struggles with Hate Speech
The user generated content platform is looking to mend its ways in the country.
The user generated content platform is looking to mend its ways in the country.(Photo: The Quint/Shruti Mathur)

Tik Tok Has Huge Indian User Base, but Struggles with Hate Speech

User-generated content has become a rage on the internet, so much so that you have influencers thronging various platforms to reach out to their fan base. What started as a viral trend in China, the short video platform Musicaly (now Tik Tok) from ByteDance has hit the right notes in a competitive market like India as well.

This has been advocated by App Annie in its State of Mobile 2019 report, where it puts Tik Tok as one of the top five Android apps throughout 2018. According to App Annie, the app counts 39 percent of its 500 million global users in India, its largest market.

The millions made by Tik Tok has got even Facebook’s attention, as the social-media giant launched Lasso, its competitor for the short-video platform. But now it’s time Tik Tok and its parent company looks to improve the hygiene on its platform and curtail the hate mongering on it.

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Most of its user base is concentrated in the age group between 16 and 24 years, that’s primarily a young millennial audience.

Courtesy SimilarWeb, a data analytics firm, we were able to see that Tik Tok’s daily average users (DAU) over the past 12 months in India, has seen an increase of 1912 percent from February 2018 to January 2019. As things stand, Tik Tok caters to over 9 million DAUs with average time per user pegged at 31 minutes, which staggering to say the least.

Tik Tok has achieved exponential growth in India over the past 12 months. 
Tik Tok has achieved exponential growth in India over the past 12 months. 
(Photo: SimilarWeb)

Having influencers share their messages gives this audience a high. However, the platform is also rife with hate speech. That’s a challenge for the app to get users to report raunchy or hate content.

Company executives on the sidelines of a media event this week claimed, Tik Tok uses a mix of human intervention and machine learning tools to remove content that is not suitable for the platform.

This team, as claimed by Tik Tok, is based in over 20 countries and regions. It now covers 36 languages, an increase of 400 percent in terms of language support from one year ago.

To keep a check on its content circulated in India, the moderation team covers major Indian languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Gujarati and more. To further strengthen the base in its second largest market, Tik Tok has offices in Delhi and Mumbai for now, with an ever-expanding team in the country to localise its needs.

Tik Tok was one of the top 10 apps downloaded in India in 2018. 
Tik Tok was one of the top 10 apps downloaded in India in 2018. 
(Photo: App Annie Report)

Block And Report

The interactive format of Tik Tok is something that enables a video’s reach to increase, with people able to comment or like the video a user posts.

And this open access to comment has led to hate mongering incidents and has even been causing mental disturbance to people on the platform, which has finally come to the company’s notice.

Desperate times call for stringent action, and Tik Tok, even while adding millions of users to its platform in the country, wants to sanitise the hatred and venomous content spewing on the app.

Tik Tok lets you delete users and report them also. 
Tik Tok lets you delete users and report them also. 
(Photo: The Quint)

For this, it has gone to the extent of asking users of the platform to delete/block their fans, if they fail to adhere to regulations. Parental control is another much needed feature, but to what extent will this impact those on the platform that are mostly first-time internet users with affordable handsets worth Rs 7,000.

The app also has something called Restricted Mode, which helps users filter out inappropriate content. Clearly, Tik Tok has noticed the nature of content getting shared and it’s time something is done about it.

Tik Tok Running Out of Time?

Tik Tok by nature works on user-generated content and most industry executives in the digital space don’t see a long shelf life for it. The reason, most users for this segment are Hindi speaking and belong to the non-metro cities. This demographic doesn’t lend itself to garner revenue for businesses.

The platform is available to iOS and Android users.
The platform is available to iOS and Android users.
(Photo: App store screen grab)

Monetisation via digital advertising is a booming market (ask Facebook and Google) but ByteDance via Tik Tok will find it hard to get hold of advertising money, if its content quality doesn’t improve.

With respect to user generated content (UGC) platforms, look at their user base, we don’t expect their monthly average users (MAUs) to be not more than 25 million and nobody sees that growing exponentially. 
Umang Bedi, President, Dailyhunt

These numbers, and the actual users of the platform have led Bedi, former Managing Director of Facebook India, to believe that without money these apps will find it hard to survive.

Hence, the need to put a quality check on content is necessary and Tik Tok is following the manual to the T, before it starts to think about making money in India.

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