Saturday, October 23, 2021

TikTok Ban

image courtesy: Inferse.com

Banning TikTok was a good decision as it has badly affected society and children. TikTok, originally called Dǒuyīn in China, was launched in 2016 by Zhang Yimin, who is also the founder of Beijing-based news and information platform Toutiao. Tik Tok was brought to Indonesia in September last year by tech company Byte Dance. TikTok, is billed as a ‘YouTube killer’ globally, is a serious player and it is backed by China’s Bytedance Technology which is currently valued over $75 billion. The app allows its users to create short music videos. It reached the one billion download mark in February. It was the fourth most-downloaded non-game app in 2018. It is a social network application that allows its users to share a 15-second video with enhancements like adding songs and dialogues. People defying gravity, imitating celebrities, dancing dangerously in front of moving cars or even simply smiling at the camera packed with all kinds of special effects. India had become a large and growing market for TikTok, with nearly 300 million users in the country out of over 1 billion total downloads, according to Sensor Tower. (TikTok notes it had over 120 million monthly actives in India.) India is not the first country seeking a ban on TikTok. In fact, authorities in Indonesia went ahead and banned TikTok last July. While lawmakers have long criticised the indiscriminate usage of social media, TikTok, in particular, appears to have irked authorities for its popularity and mass outreach, particularly among youngsters.

One of the main reasons that the decision of banning TikTok was taken is “pornography. Although the apps page in Play Store and Apple Store state that it is rated PG (parental guidance needed) for user interaction, the app’s terms of service do not specify an age limit for users, which means anyone of any age can easily create an account. The Tik Tok application had taken India by storm; it is quite famous in the rural areas of the country too. Under Indian laws, as per Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 which incorporates these basic rules of removal of illegal content and due diligence. The  Intermediaries Guidelines Rules, 2011 specifically gives intermediaries the right to remove users who do not follow their guidelines under Rule 3(5). This will, at the least, prevent further exposure of children to such individuals.

“TikTok allows users to make interesting content with its various features. If you manage to make interesting content, people will see you as a trend-setter and follow you but since the app is largely used to enact popular film scenes and it is also found that a number of them feature obscene dialogues objectifying women from softcore pornographic films. The court opines that the “dangerous aspect” of TikTok is the “inappropriate” content. It also said, “there is a possibility of the children contacting strangers directly”. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February, right-wing group Swadeshi Jagran Manch said that TikTok is known for sharing the details of children and being an open ground for child pornography and possibly “anti-national” activities.

In an official statement, TikTok has said that they have been stepping up efforts to take down objectionable content. Till date, they have removed over 6 million videos that violated their Terms of Use and Community Guidelines, following an exhaustive review of the content generated by their users in India.

Maintaining a safe and positive in-app environment at TikTok should be our priority. We need to have tough measures to protect users against misuse, protect their privacy and digital wellbeing. Parents need to learn more about social media literacy in order to protect their children from any harm that could come to them on the internet.


(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)
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