On July 29, the Government of India officially banned 59 apps due to clashes with China for a decade long border issue including the world trending video sharing service TikTok. It was the second time this has happened but like the first attempt, which was struck down by a state court after six days, this one has stuck.
India’s TikTok dominance was nearly unalloyed good for many of the less well-off people who enjoyed it. The app had become an escape from a repressive government and a brutal pandemic. When the app disappeared in app store and google play store the people could not use or access any longer the app, a budding alternative entertainment platform/media source — it disappointed users of entertainment and some badly off, who were making a living out of it.
Mid-June clashes with China for a decade-long border disputes have caused 59 apps to ban in India including TikTok. Then another 60 of Chinese made apps were banned amid the border tension. Also, Geopolitical tensions between the two countries continue to escalate after deadly border clashes left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead. Many Indians have called for a boycott of Chinese goods and services, particularly from China’s dominant tech industry.
Concerns about TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, the national security has to do with potential cyber-security attack from platform, but it didn’t square up in India as popular app owned by ByteDance, Resso, is currently allowed in India
In a country that contains such diverse, sprawling cultures and languages — as well as oppressive systems against those of different ethnicities, religions, castes, abilities, and social classes — TikTok achieved ubiquity, even transcending many of India’s societal divides.
You can see why: The short, visual format is welcoming and easy to learn; the app supported 15 different tongues in the country, transcending language and literacy barriers; and it could also be used on cheaper,budget-friendly phones.
Why did India love TikTok so much?
Not only did Indians love TikTok, but the app had recently become an effective tool to mobilize for protests and other forms of social education and organization. And like in the U.S., the joyous, creative content that people shared served as a relief during this period of haphazard economic lockdowns and health risk.
TikTok was huge in India, As of April, TikTok had had 610 million downloads and 600 million active users within India — about 44 percent of the population and over a quarter of total worldwide TikTok downloads
Rural women who previously lacked access to any big platform found some measure of fame,fun, and newfound confidence in the face of oppressive societies. Independent musicians, long suffocated by the Bollywood complex’s stranglehold on India’s music industry, found a way to get their creation more curious listeners and sometimes recording deals. TikTok is one of the most accepting platform when it comes to embracing different people. In India, structural discrimination has long left the poor, the nonurban, women, Dalits, Muslims, and other religious minorities without an adequate voice. TikTok, however briefly, was able to help change that.
TikTok was not a universal good. There were legitimate concerns about sexually exploitative content as well as misinformation, particularly targeted at Muslims and those of lower caste. Some teens posted horrifically violent videos, including suicides and acid attacks.
Meanwhile, TikTok, the short video-sharing platform, in its transparency report has stated that it has removed 16 million videos from Indian users in the last six months of 2019 for violating its content policies.
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Other apps are stepping in. Indian technology executives, who mostly celebrated the ban, are either promoting or hurriedly producing their own apps. Some are hoping to capitalize on anti-China sentiment and a nationalist impulse in order to help domestic apps have more of an appeal than TikTok.
Instagram’s new Reels feature, which is seen as a “TikTok clone” and had one of its first launches in the country. Reels is rapidly gaining fans — no surprise, since Instagram and Facebook are widely used in India
There’s Chingari, run by the company InMobi, which is similar in design to TikTok but “homegrown” and hopefully “more responsible,” as CEO Naveen Tewari says. The app is also trying to lure influencers with money, offering cash prizes for those who participate in “talent hunts.” There’s Instagram Reels, which not only has a brand advantage but also lucrative Facebook deals with major Indian music labels— although, as one Indian marketing executive claims, “Brands will not be looking at Reels the way they are looking at TikTok, as the brand story won’t come out in 15 seconds.” (Reels are 15 seconds long, while TikTok videos can be 1 minute.) There’s Roposo, which launched in 2014 but garnered 75 million downloads right after TikTok was banned; it touts itself as an “ethical” and “clean” platform. There’s Mitron, which has also gained tens of millions of downloads but has gained controversy for its bugs and its alleged ties to Pakistan through its source code. There’s even a native “Tik Tik” app that popped up, which was downloaded en masse but was missing TikTok’s appealing duet feature. And there are fake apps sprouting up as scams.
It’s estimated that India’s top 100 influencers have collectively lost over the equivalent of $15 million since the ban. Some less tech-savvy users are having more trouble, as services like YouTube or other competitors don’t have the same ease of use. The ground is moving, but so far, no service has captured TikTok’s universal appeal.