The Tamil Nadu government will initiate a dialogue with the Centre on banning Chinese media-sharing platform TikTok in view of its application to circulate extreme content, particularly among a younger demographic of netizens, state IT minister M Manigandan told the state Assembly on Tuesday.
The debate in the Assembly was initiated by Nagapattinam lawmaker Thamimun Ansari, who told ET, “I raised an issue forwarded to me by community welfare workers that the mobile application (TikTok) was acting as a platform for heated debates inimical to law and order, and sharing of sexually-explicit material. The minister supported my charge and promised to take steps to ban the application in Tamil Nadu.”
TikTok allows creation of short videos, with options for users to lip-sync to soundtracks and add effects, and also follow a community of entertainers and creations on the application. TikTok is owned by Beijing-headquartered Bytedance, also considered to be the world’s most valued startup with a $75-billion valuation. It also owns an India-specific social content sharing app – Helo.
When asked about its response to the Tamil Nadu state government recommending its ban, TikTok said it was in the process of recruiting a chief nodal officer to coordinate better with the law enforcement authorities.
TikTok is among a clutch of Chinese mobile applications going viral with Indian teenagers, raising concerns among social groups and privacy groups over exposure to nudity, hate speech and other material that could potentially harm impressionable demographics.
Bytedance had hired former MasterCard India and Samsung executive Sandhya Sharma to take care of government relations in India, which accounts for 39% of its global users of 500 million people. As of January 31, TikTok has 24.5 million daily active users in India, according to digital marketing intelligence service SimilarWeb.
Earlier, the Tamil Nadu police department had issued advisories on protecting children against the Blue Whale Challenge, an online game mandating dangerous tasks to its players.
The advisory came after the Madras High Court took up the case following the death of a teenager in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, who according to the police reports, had taken part in the game.