UPDATE: The TikTok app is now available on the Google Play store in India after being banned. Bytedance Technology pleaded for the court to lift the ban. Existing users were not affected as the order restricted new users from downloading the app. This comes as a relief since the video sharing platform was allegedly suffering up to $500,000 in financial losses each day. The reinstatement comes with new rules as TikTok now won’t allow users to upload nude content among other things.
TikTok is a popular video-based social networking app whose parent company, ByteDance acquired another popular video app Musical.ly for $1 billion in 2017 and combined the two into one app. The app is popularly known for its lip-synching and act-out memes with background music and other sound clips that get remixed among its young users mostly Gen Z and late millennials.
The TikTok platform has experienced a lot of growth this recent couple of months with 75 million new users last December with 32.3 million new users coming from India but the country doesn’t see it like that. A court in Tamil Nandu state ruled in favour of a petition to ban the app in the state. The petition filed by activist Muthu Kumar stated that the app was encouraging pornography.
TikTok joins Battle Royale game app, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, also known as PUBG that has been banned in several Indian states for being addictive. There were several objections brought up including stifling freedom of expression but the court went ahead with the ban and the judges said that the government had a social responsibility to check these apps.
The petition filed to the Madras High Court stated that the platform contained degrading culture and encouraging porn besides containing explicit content and causing stigma and medical health issue among teens.
Justice N Kirubakaran who led the bench even added that media houses should be restricted from broadcasting TikTok videos. Madras High Court suggested that India bring new laws governing legislation concerning children’s privacy online.
TikTok appointed Sandhya Sharma to be its public policy director as the platform gears up to go before the Indian parliament that will scrutinise how the app is prepping itself up against fake news as the country goes to the election this year.
The Madras High Court also pushed for a countrywide ban on TikTok and is going to hit hard since the subcontinent makes 39% of TikTok’s 500 million users. The social media platform has moderation teams working in over 20 countries to keep up with content filtering, takedown requests and handle privacy protection issues as it grows.