Decoding the Curious Case of TikTok’s ‘Ban’ in India

TikTok has been taken off the app stores. But what made the Madras High Court take this step?

Updated
Tech and Auto
3 min read
Tik Tok Banned in India: The platform is available to iOS and Android users.
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Popular short video-making and sharing app TikTok has been taken off the Google and Apple app stores. The move came after the Madras High Court refused to stay its order banning the popular mobile app. Google and Apple to complied with the court order and have removed the application (although it can still be downloaded through other third party apps).

Interestingly, the downloads from third party platforms like APKMirror have surged since the ban.

TikTok (formerly known as musical.ly) gained humongous popularity in a short span of time. People became TikTok stars overnight with millions of views on their videos and as many followers in some cases.

The videos got widely circulated over other social media channels too.

But there were some fundamental shortcomings that have probably brought on this ban. Also this wasn’t the first time there was a call for ban on the app. However, it’s the first time it has officially been taken off the app stores.

Here are the top 5 controversies that marred TikTok through its run in India.

1. Access to Pornography

Due to concerns over improper content monitoring, the Madras High Court had directed the Centre to ban the TikTok app saying users could access pornographic content through it.

People could post things through their handles with little to no moderation, although the apps content policies forbid pornographic content or nudity. It lacked adequate checks. There were also concerns over peddling of child pornography on the platform as there are no strong content checks.

2. Life at Risk

Like there have been instances of people losing their life while taking selfies, a similar incident emerged recently in Delhi, where a 19-year-old Salman, was shot dead while reportedly trying to make a TikTok video.

Salman, along with his friends Sohail and Amir, had apparently gone out for a drive to India Gate. While returning, Sohail sitting next to Salman, who was driving the car, pulled out a country-made pistol. He aimed it at Salman while trying to make the TikTok video, but the pistol went off shooting him on the cheek.

3. Violence

The court also expressed concerns over the use of weapons and violence in some TikTok videos. Also there are underage children with TikTok accounts that post and watch these videos too. No strict check on the age limit of users appears to have been made by the app.

4. Cyber Bullying and Harassment

TikTok allows users to comment on videos, which also led to a lot of TikTok users getting trolled and bullied. There are some famous TikTok users that are under constant fire by trolls with people making comments about their sexuality, body and some even going to the extent of getting abusive.

These videos get shared widely on other social media too, which brings more flak to these users. Manjul Khattar, a TikTok sensation, is also one of the most widely trolled content creators on social media.

5. Political Use

TikTok in India was also getting widely used to spread political agendas. There are dedicated TikTok users that propagate the different political agendas and try to influence young and impressionable TikTok users.

There are hundreds of TikTok videos espousing distinct ideologies. Political TikTok videos of all kinds are prevalent on the app, including lip-syncs to Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s speeches.

The TikTok ban was a top trend on Twitter on Wednesday, 17 April 2019. There were a lot of people supporting the ban, saying it should have been done before. A few users also pointed out that instead of curbing the downloads, the Court should try and make it more secure by having proper checks in place.

There are many loopholes to this ban as well. The people who are already on the app can continue to use it. And there are other ways to download the app as well. The order does not talk about the videos that are already up and circulating that violate the laws.

The ban seems like a hasty step. More measures need to be in place if they have to make it a safer social media platform.

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