TikTok Controversy Explained: Is Ban Really the Solution?

Who hasn’t heard about TikTok controversy today? It’s really difficult to avoid memes, past two weeks twitter trends, news, and of course YouTube. We need to talk about its influence in India first. In the quarter ending 31 March, TikTok was downloaded 315 million times – the highest number of downloads for any app in a quarter. There are close to 200 million monthly active TikTok users in India. The reach, scale and level of engagement makes it India’s most influential app that seems to have broken the barriers of ethnicity, age, class, and even socio-economic status in a way that other social media apps cannot dream of.

TikTok Controversy Explained: Is Ban Really the Solution?

But, these two weeks have been very hard on it along with the TikTokers. This controversy seems to not end anytime soon. In every one or two days, something comes up that makes this even worse. As of writing this article its rating has come down from 4.7 to 1.2 in the google play store. Ratings have also dropped in Apple’s Appstore from 4.6 to 3.5. This recent rating drop is due to the ongoing feud between YouTube and TikTok or may I say the deletion of CarryMinati’s roast of Amir Siddique by Youtube. There has been some collateral damage in the past – Remember, how users uninstalled Snapdeal thinking it to be linked with Snapchat.

TikTok Controversy Explained: Is Ban Really the Solution?

What started YouTubers vs TikTokers battle?

The war of words between the content creators started with TikTok user Amir Siddiqui posting a video calling out Youtubers. In his video, Siddiqui compared both the mediums and highlighted the unity of the TikTok community. So CarryMinati, a famous Youtuber, made a response video where he dissected Siddiqui’s video line-by-line. This video was an instant hit; it broke down various youtube records within days it was posted. Memes against TikTok started flooding the socials after this.

#carryminati has been trending in twitter for the past two weeks. It was about to become the most liked non-music video of YouTube but was taken down by YouTube. It was supposedly removed after being reported for harassment and cyberbullying. Fans of carryminati didn’t take this well and started mass reporting it on various app stores. However, some people claimed the video used inappropriate words inciting hate and supported youtube’s decision. Many famous personalities supported CarryMinati after the deletion of video.

Why is TikTok getting criticised in India?

This outrage gets more fuelled after an alleged acid-attack promoting video by a famous TikToker Faisal Siddique (Brother of Amir Siddique who has 13.4 million followers). NCW (National Commission for Women) seeks a police probe against Faisal. This isn’t the first time some malicious and highly inappropriate videos are viral on the platform, and definitely not the last time. From glorifying terrorism to promoting rape, it has all kinds of inappropriate content. These videos are so depraved in nature that it is unfit to refer them here. Inappropriate videos can be spread through any social networking websites and video sharing platforms.

Most of the famous platforms have highly restrictive guidelines to prevent the spread of inappropriate content. Several other old unfit videos also surfaced on the socials after this incident which again opened the debate of the negative impact this app can have on the masses. TikTok has been criticised repeatedly for its failure to censor inappropriate content. It has been earlier banned in India by Madras High Court, citing that it “encourages pornography”. The court also noted that children using the app were at risk of being targeted by sexual predators. However, the ban was lifted later by court when the platform stated that they had removed over 6 million videos that violated their content policy and guidelines.

Why is TikTok so popular?

It’s simple to use; it doesn’t require any camera, video editing skills, and content writing to upload a video. It also doesn’t take much time to create a TikTok video. The app thrives off trending hashtags and challenges. It also allows users to express themselves through short videos. This popularity, easy-to-use interface, and equitability make it a social media platform for the masses, and that is where the trouble begins. The app seems fine till now, right. So where’s the problem? The problem arises in their moderation policy, and inability to filter content which can impact the society in a negative way.

They’re not able to filter contents that aren’t fit on their guidelines effectively. Some of the inappropriate videos remained on the app for weeks until there was mass social outrage. Is this the content from which we want people to be inspired? These type of videos in this widely popular app can do catastrophic damage. What if one of these videos becomes a new TikTok trend. Some of you guys might think that some people are shit and why to blame whole TikTok for this. Given the depraved content being created on the platform, should TikTok be banned?

Banning TikTok is not the solution to this problem. Just because of the fault of a few, whole TikTok community will suffer. This is also pointless since it won’t stop the spread of inappropriate videos. TikTok isn’t the source of the problem here but the medium. Unless the root cause is addressed, the content will simply find its way to other platforms. It is interesting to note that TikTok censors private videos(visible only to the user who uploaded it) also if they are anyhow representing China in a bad light but fails to censor obscene public videos. TikTok needs to be pressurized for more restrictive guidelines; they need to be banned until they comply with these rules to prevent the negative effect of the app. Banning TikTok permanently in India will also lead to more job losses. Banning TikTok will also not set a good precedent. Every time an app is misused, will we call to ban it also?

Liked this piece? Also read: TikTok: A Success Story.

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