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What is TikTok and why was it banned in India?

TikTok is a video app developed by a Chinese company Beijing Bytedance Technology in 2017, for markets outside China. The app was originally launched in China in the year 2016 by the name of Douyin, which was developed on the same platform in compliance with the Chinese rules and regulations.

It is one of the most downloaded apps on Google Play Store and Apple App Store with an estimated 800 million installs as of October 2018, which surely has increased manifolds since. It has been in the global top four trending apps since at least June 2018 on Google Play Store as well as the Apple App Store. The users can create and share short lip-sync, comedy and talent videos and follow other TikTok users.

But recently, this app has been facing some legal issues in many counties across the globe. What harm can a simple app like TikTok cause to the security of a developing nation and its people? Read on and find out.

Also read: What is Deepfake? Everything you need to know

Why was it banned in India?

This Chinese app was banned on April 3, 2019, by the Madurai bench of the Madras High court stating that the app exposes children to sexual predators and encourages pornography. Though the ban was revoked after an appeal by TikTok, there have been many other petitions filed in various courts concerning threats to the culture and people of India.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology raised some questions after a Hindu nationalist group alleged the developer of TikTok, Beijing Bytedance Technology, for poor privacy protection. A wing of the RSS group has also criticised TikTok’s content of being against Indian culture and morality.

The app is currently banned in Indonesia and Bangladesh on the grounds of promoting child pornography.What is TikTok app and why was it banned in India? Recently, TikTok star, Faisal Khan had posted an instigating video on Tabrez Ansari lynching case. The TikTok star conveyed the following message through the video: “You people have killed Tabrez, now if his son becomes a terrorist and takes revenge, don’t blame him”.

This statement was severely criticised and the company took immediate action against Faisal Khan by banning his account. An actor, Ajaz Khan came in support of the TikTok star and mocked Mumbai Police. He was later arrested for the same.

Several other incidents suggest the users be careful while using this app. 

Several news reports emerged about a teenager in Delhi shooting himself dead as his pistol accidentally went off while filming a TikTok video. Another report mentions a viral trend of jumping in front of vehicles for shooting TikTok videos in Kerala. There was one more report of a man who accidentally slit his throat by a knife while making a TikTok video.

Some MPs have also accused the application of illegally collecting and selling users data to China, which is a violation of the privacy policy. In response to these allegations, ByteDance assured the users that their data will not be stored in third-party data centres in the US and Singapore anymore. ByteDance is in the process to secure the data and keep it within the Indian borders.

Should it be banned?

Banning is not always the best option. There is a need to make the users aware of the pros and cons of using the app, especially teenagers who form a majority of the user base. The role of family and other institutions is prominent in educating teenagers. There are issues related to data privacy that should be looked into too.

The developers have agreed to work in collaboration with the Government of India and agree to the terms and conditions. TikTok sees India as a massive market in future and is ready to invest millions of dollars in the upcoming years. So do you think TikTok is still a threat to the culture and security of India? Let us know in the comments section.

Also read: What is ProtonMail and 6 reasons why you should use it

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