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TikTok stunts pose threats to lives

Popular video sharing app TikTok has been facing new rows and controversies every day for some time. Though it is very popular among children and youngsters, the video creating and sharing platform has been in the news for the wrong reasons.

In addition to pornographic content, for cheap publicity on social media, the use of this app is posing threat to the lives of both the common man and users. Recently, TikTok model Adnaan Shaikh, a resident of Dharavi, was found doing dangerous bike stunts on the road of Bandra reclamation without a helmet. He uploaded this video on TikTok and other social networking sites. Such video might encourage other youngsters to do dangerous stunts and put their lives in danger. Strict action should be taken against such persons by the Mumbai Traffic Police Department as it violates traffic rules and regulations.

Police Naik Poonamchand Pawar from Bandra Traffic division registered an offence under section 279, 336 IPC and Section 184,129 of Motor Vehicle Act against the stuntman in Bandra Police Station. Further investigation is being conducted by Bandra police.

Moreover, many youths are damaging their career as they are paying too much attention to TikTok. From dawn to not only dust, till late night they spend time on this app.

On being asked about the issue, TV actress Ekta Jain told Afternoon Voice, “Stunt by TikTok users is definitely not good. They should not put others’ lives in danger. They must choose a safe place for shooting. Moreover, social awareness is also necessary in this regard. Everybody will have to follow the rules as a citizen. There must be an age limit for log in TikTok. In that case, we can save children from exploitation.”

It is worth mentioning that this app has been found guilty of propagating pornographic content and exposing children to predators. Therefore, the Madras High Court on April 3 banned TikTok. The High Court directed the central government to prevent TikTok downloads. After the order, the app was taken off both from Apple and Google app stores. Acting upon the court’s order, TikTok removed six million videos for not complying with its community guidelines. It was banned in other countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia too. French police had warned parents about the dangers of TikTok, saying their teens may be targeted by indecent sexual proposals.

A TikTok user Mohsin Siddiqui said, “Many became famous overnight through TikTok videos. However, in doing so, they commit mistakes. Sometimes they met with serious accidents and got hurt. Many times, TikTok users put others in difficulties through their wrong deeds. This should be avoided.”

On the other hand, another TikTok user Sachin Patel said, “Stunts by TikTok users are good and entertaining. Adnaan Shaikh of Dharavi has done a stunt on the bike, I will do a stunt on the tractor. No one can check enthusiastic TikTok users.”

Later on, the Madras High Court lifted the ban on April 24, giving respite to the China-based company Bytedance Technology Co. The court also warned the app’s owner ByteDance that hosting obscene videos on the platform would be considered a contempt of court. The company welcomed the order of the High Court and promised to enhance safety measure to ensure the misuse of the app.

In October 2018, a 24-year-old from Chennai allegedly commits suicide following harassment by TikTok users for posting videos of themselves dressed as a female. In Jan 2019 S. Ramadoss, founder of the Pattali Makkal Katchi party in Tamil Nadu, asked the state government to ban TikTok, saying it distracts children and leads them to be sexually perverse. In February 2019 Tamil Nadu Information Technology minister M Manikandan said, “Tamil Nadu government will seek centre’s help to seek a ban on TikTok for causing degradation of Tamil Nadu’s culture and leading to issues related to law and order in the state.”

Advocate and social activist Muthu Kumar filed a plea in the Madras High Court on April 1 to ban TikTok for its pornographic content and its potential of exposing children to sexual predators. Two days later, on April 3, the court banned TikTok.

The app has also been cited as a hotbed for cyber-bullying, hate speech, and sexual predators. Many incidents of deaths took place while making TikTok videos. On account of these accidents, people and government came forward against the TikTok app.

It is remarkable that TikTok has garnered 120 million monthly users in India. TikTok has approximately 0.5 billion users around the world. It was launched as Douyin in China in September 2016. In September 2017 it was launched outside of China. In November 2017 China’s Bytedance buys 15-second fame app Musical.ly for nearly $1 billion. Musical.ly is already a sensation among teenagers in the Americas and Europe, while TikTok, owned by Bytedance, is only popular among youths in Asia. In June 2018 Musical.ly reaches 100 million monthly active users. TikTok touched 500 million monthly active users in June. In August 2018 Bytedance announced that it was shuttering Musical.ly and would move users to a revamped version of its homegrown competitor TikTok.

With over 500 million smartphone users with cheap access to 4G data, Indian youths, in particular, are increasingly taking to video as the primary content consumption medium. TikTok, with its emphasis on short videos and lack of reliance on text interactions, also makes it more accessible and less intimidating than traditional social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

– Vijay Salgaonkar

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