India TikTok Ban: App Removed From Google, Apple Play Stores

Chinese mobile application TikTok is no longer available on Google and Apple play store.

According to LiveLaw, Google decided to block the app, which claims to have 500 million users worldwide with more than 120 million in India, after the Madras high court on April 16 refused to lift the ex-parte ban imposed on April 3.

The court had passed an interim order directing the Centre to prohibit the download and use of the mobile application after hearing a petition which said that TikTok is causing cultural decay and enabling pornography in India.

In February, Bangladesh had also banned TikTok as part of a clampdown on internet pornography. It has also been hit with a large fine in the United States for illegally collecting information from children.

“It is said that the TikTok app is mostly [used] by the teenagers and young people and has proved to be an addictive one,” the order had said. “By becoming addicted to TikTok and similar apps, or cyber games, the future of the youngsters and mindset of the children are spoiled.”

Besides, the court had also prohibited the media from telecasting videos made using the app.

However, a few days later, Bytedance Technology Pvt Limited – Indian operator and marketer of the app – approached the Supreme Court, saying that the high court passed the order without hearing them, the Indian Express reported.

Also read: ‘Mindset of Children Spoiled’: Madras High Court Directs Centre to Ban TikTok

The legal representatives of the company also argued that the mobile platform is an intermediary as per Section 2(1) (w)of the Information Technology (IT) Act and that it cannot be held responsible for actions of third parties on the platform.

According to LiveLaw, Bytedance said that the app is for creating “fun” and “amusing” videos, and posed no threat to life, liberty, and security of an individual. They said that apart from a small portion, flagged as inappropriate by users, the majority of the videos are harmless and entertaining.
The Supreme Court, on Monday, did not stay the Madras HC’s order and directed the HC to hear the petitioner’s arguments on April 16.
However, the HC did not accept Bytedance’s request, the Indian Express reported.

The ban spurred hilarious reactions from people across the country:

However, amidst all the criticism, some have also argued in favour of the app saying that it can be used as a solid marketing tool due to its reach and popularity among youngsters.

Duncan Watts and Jonnah Peretti, in Harvard Business Review, wrote:

Challenges as a form of viral marketing seems like the ultimate free lunch: pick a small number of people to seek your idea, product or message; get it to viral; and then watch while it spreads effortlessly to reach millions..The model for this is based on an analogy with a spread of infectious disease because purely viral campaigns, like disease outbreaks, typically start with a small number of seed cases.

But TikTok has continued to be drawn into controversy in India.

On Sunday, a 19-year-old was allegedly shot dead by a friend in Delhi as they posed with a pistol to make a video to show on TikTok, police told Indian media. Three friends were driving in Delhi, when one pulled out a homemade pistol and aimed it at the driver. Police said the gun accidentally went off, shooting the man through the head.

The next hearing has been slotted for April 24.