TikTok has hit a major roadblock. India’s Supreme Court sided with a lower court’s order to halt new downloads of TikTok to keep pornography from children.
Google and Apple have now removed TikTok from their India app stores this Tuesday. It came after the country’s Supreme court refused to block a lower court’s ruling to stop anyone in India downloading TikTok. As said above, the lower court ruled to block all new downloads of TikTok because it wanted to protect the well-being of children in India.
This is a big deal for TikTok. Though the app has over 120 million current users in India, that number currently cannot grow. Considering how many people do live in India and haven’t downloaded the app yet, this is a huge market loss for TikTok.
Plus, India isn’t the only country questioning TikTok’s ability to filter out inappropriate content. Governments all around the world, including the United States, are wary of TikTok allowing its users to post questionable content and also having children share too much of their personal information with strangers. Bangladesh banned the app two months ago because the country was cracking down on pornography. Indonesia also banned it last July because of questionable content. However, it was restored a week later.
The case that stops TikTok downloads in India
The court hearing the TikTok case issued a rambling order earlier this month. It recited the petitioner’s claim TikTok was plagued with pornography, exposed young people to sexual predators, spoiled the mind and prompted people to commit suicide.
“The government has the social responsibility to prevent these kinds of applications,” the two-judge panel wrote.
The court issued its first order without a response from TikTok. Regardless, TikTok says it respects the court’s decision and is working on the flaws that have been pointed out.
“We have faith in the Indian judicial system,” TikTok said in a statement on Wednesday. The company went onto say it’s working harder to remove objectionable content. According to TikTok, they’ve taken down six million videos in India.
The larger debate about false information on social media
There’s been a bigger debate in India about the spread of false information on social media. The country has debated over the inability of social media to stop the spread of false information. TikTok is one of the platforms in that debate. The country has also debated the dangers to children posed by mobile technology and the vast influence of American and Chinese tech forces.
“There is a belief that Chinese apps are a threat to national security,” said Salman Waris, an expert in international technology law at TechLegis in New Delhi.
Waris also said restricting platforms like TikTok is tricky. Places like Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube could face the same ban because they face the same issue with inappropriate content.
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