TikTok – a popular app which allows users to create their own short musical clips and segues – continues to rank highly in download charts in the West, having originated in China. However, it seems that the program, which blended in functionality from previous engine Musical.ly, is currently in the middle of a legal storm out in India, where lawmakers appear ready to ban people from using the app outright. According to Gizmodo, the move is being considered as it is claimed that young people are getting addicted to using the app, which is feared to be leading them down a ‘path of cultural degeneration’.
Tamil Nadu IT Minister M. Manikandan advised in a statement that the state will push to ban the app at local level, meaning that anyone hoping to download and use TikTok in Tamil Nadu will be barred from doing so. Such discussions appear to have started as a result of lawmaker Thamimun Ansari making a recommendation that young users hooked on TikTok are able to see sexually explicit content, and that deepfake technology may also be in play.
The app, which also operates as social network, has been brought up in local media recently as a result of young users claiming that they had been regularly bullied by others using the service. However, Ansari’s position on the matter appears to arise as a matter of censorship and protection.
“Most of the TikTok videos are nothing but dances and songs presented in a vulgar way,” the legislator advised in conversation with The Indian Express. “If the government cannot ban it, I will follow up this issue seeking better regulation.”
TikTok has famously become one of the world’s most widely-downloaded apps. Widely used by young people, concerns over content arise as a result of children under the age of 16 are thought to be among the most regular users of the service. Gizmodo further states that a TikTok advisor informed them that they would be hiring a specific officer to help work with law concerns in India. Furthermore, a statement also advised that they were continuing to allow users to feel safe with account protections and reporting systems already in place.
The content available to access by young people online has never been more difficult to police. Will Tamil Nadu’s proposed ban set off a domino effect leading other territories to follow suit? Or will TikTok continue to thrive worldwide? Time will tell.