TikTok is under fire in India over alleged cyberbullying

Published On: February 13, 2019 08:30 PM NPT By: Agencies

Most of us know TikTok – the app that allows users to create 15-second videos – as a place for silly (and sometimes cringy) videos created by teenagers.

But, there’s another side to it filled with sexually explicit content and cyberbullying. Now, and the Indian state of Tamilnadu wants to ban the app while alleging that it causes “cultural degradation.” On Tuesday, the south Indian state’s IT minister, M Manikandan, said the state is planning to block TikTok and urge the country’s government to ban it as well.

The minister was responding to a query from Thamimun Ansari, a state legislator, who claimed that the app hosts sexually explicit content and videos with morphed faces of innocent people. He added many young people of school and college age use this app, and their families are being affected.

According to a report, a counselor working with a distress line in southern India received 36 calls just in December month from children who were allegedly bullied on the platform. Last October, a 24-year-old man jumped in front of a train after he was mocked for posting a video to TikTok in which he dressed as a woman. Another teen reportedly committed suicide in Mumbai after her grandmother scolded her for using the app.

In response, the company said that it’ll hire an officer to handle bullying grievances:

At TikTok, maintaining a safe and positive in-app environment is our priority. We have robust measures to protect users against misuse, including easy reporting mechanisms that enable users and law enforcement to report content that violates our terms of use and community guidelines. We are committed to respecting local laws and regulations, and in order to better coordinate with law enforcement agencies, we are also in the process of hiring a Chief Nodal Officer, based out of India.

This isn’t the first time TikTok has been accused of not appropriately handling instances of bullying and child exploitation. Its app, which has nearly 25 million active users in India according to analytics site SimilarWeb, is owned by Chinese mobile software giant ByteDance.

Another app, Bigo Live, which claims to have over 150 million users worldwide, is also reportedly filled with obscene content. It’ll be interesting to see what steps the Tamilnadu government takes to ban TikTok. We’ve previously seen in the Porn Ban case that these blocks are easy to circumvent with a few simple tricks.

Recently, the company ran a campaign to educate users about safety on the platform, as well. But if we’re right back here again so soon, something mustn’t have stuck

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