Why TikTok Has Been Banned In India?

Tooba Maher
Tooba Maher

After Madras High Court has banned the option to download TikTok, the popular video-sharing app, has been vanished from Google and Apple app stores in India.

The Madras High Court had requested a ban on the app, claiming that it hosted inappropriate content that can be potentially dangerous for impressionable young minds.

The ban has been done in setback for its Chinese developer Bytedance Technology's efforts to tap India's growing internet content market. Users still looking to download Tik Tok, have been reported to be looking for 'TikTok download' and 'Tik Tok apk' online to gain access to the app. TikTok ban also triggered a series of jokes and memes on social media.

The Indian government has now ordered even Android and Apple play stores to remove the Chinese app so that Indians can’t access it.

However, on 16 April, the Madras High Court is expected to hear objections of Chinese company ByteDance against the Court’s ban of TikTok. If the Madras High Court, or thereafter the Supreme Court which will hear the same issue on 22 April will set aside the interim order, the order will present concerns for the future of content regulation in India.

It is to be noted that various other sites present similar issues, and it is not clear what was seen as a differentiating factor leading to the ban.

So now comes the question, why TikTok has been banned?

Is it because, it was previously banned in Indonesia and Bangladesh? Or is it because of the demographic that TikTok attracts, which is a large number of children and youngsters. The matter of great concern is that despite the age limit of 13 years, children of all ages are using the app. So who is to be actually blamed?

Parents, in different reports, have expressed concern that since interaction with strangers is possible via the app. These factors have surely drawn the attention of sexual predators and other elements on the app.

Not to forget, the 2019 BBC investigation that mentioned various pedophilic comments and interactions on the app. It further reported that thought TikTok can remove illegal content or comments posted on its app, it can’t remove or block the person who put up such content or comments.

Court’s reasons for the Interim ban of TikTok:

The order of the Madras High Court gives a list of its reasons for the ban, including a concern of availability of pornographic content, exposure of children to sexual predators, persons being made subject to mockery or pranks, violation of privacy and its addictive tendency among youngsters.

Court also stated that ‘…By becoming addicted to TikTok App, and similar apps, or cyber games, the future of the youngsters and mindset of the children are spoiled’.

However, ByteDance, argued that a very small amount of content i.e. 0.0006%, is flagged as inappropriate by users, and the remaining is legitimate content. If true, then it must be taken into account when imposing a ban on the app.

There are various other cases, which dealt with similar content related problems on other sites. The outcome did not lead to a ban, but instead led to a direction to find a way to deal with the content.

So how TikTok app is different from others?

Some Possible Reasons for Its Ban:

  • A 24-year-old Chennai citizen allegedly committed suicide on Oct. 17, 2018, due to the harassment by TikTok users for posting videos of him in female attire.

  • On Jan. 01, 2019, S Ramadoss, founder of the Pattali Makkal Katchi party in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state, asked the state government to ban the app as it leads to sexual perversity and distracts youngsters.

  • M Manikandan, Tamil Nadu’s minister of IT, on Feb. 11, has said his state will ask the central government to ban TikTok across the country for “degrading culture and encouraging pornography.”

  • A college student dies on Feb. 22 and two of his friends are severely injured, after their motorcycle rams into a truck while making a TikTok video.

  • An Advocate Muthu Kumar files a plea in the Madras high court to ban TikTok over the circulation of pornography on its platform and exposure of children to sensitive content.

  • A 19-year-old Delhi resident is accidentally shot dead by his friend while posing with a pistol for a TikTok video on a car ride.

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