In garb of entertainment, TikTok promotes rape, domestic violence
From being a harmless app meant for leisure, TikTok has turned into a problematic platform, one that brazenly promotes rape, domestic violence, acid attacks, and strokes religious tensions. Hundreds of Twitter users, and the National Commission for Women's Chief Rekha Sharma, want this app banned in India. The demand may seem obtuse to many, but the videos on the platform show it's not unfair.
Founded by Chinese entrepreneur Zhang Yiming, TikTok launched worldwide in August 2018, after merging with Musical.ly. The company is owned by ByteDance, which Zhang founded in 2012. Used to create short lip-sync videos, the app rose to global prominence. The app has been downloaded over 2 billion times by April, 2020. Of it, more than 611 million downloads come from India.
The reach of the app is humongous. It also sheds limelight on talented persons, who would have otherwise remained unnoticed. Just a few days ago, internet users learned of the dancing skills of one Arman Rathod. As he grooved to Bollywood superstar Hrithik Roshan's hit song You Are My Sonia, he left everyone impressed. There are many like Arman whom TikTok made famous.
As it turns out, talent search is only one aspect of TikTok, the other one is filthy and sick. While the Twitter trend #BanTikTok may not succeed in achieving its goal, it has shed light on the utterly disgusting videos the platform hosts. The app clearly has no content policy. One such video, justifying acid attack by "celebrity" Faisal Siddiqui was deleted after outrage.
The list of abusive videos is unfortunately long. In another video, Faisal, whose account was deleted after Sharma's intervention, was seen hurting his supposed wife. Yet another video, showed two underage boys suggesting they raped a girl because she rejected their advances. This rape video format was used by countless users. In one video, a jilted lover was shown shooting a woman dead.
If gender-related violence wasn't enough, the platform is also a breeding ground for communal tensions. In 2019, after a youth named Tabrez Ansari was mercilessly lynched in Jharkhand, over suspicion of theft, TikToker Faisal Shaikh alias Faisu warned of "consequences". Faisu, who has over 4 crore followers, said when Ansari's kids seek "revenge" they shouldn't be labeled as terrorists. The video was deleted later.
Notably, the outrage over TikTok reflected in its rating. In less than a week, the app was downrated from 4.6 to 2 on Google Play Store. TikTok Lite's ratings stood at 1.1. Further, Sharma said that she will be writing to Centre seeking a ban. Not only are youngsters being pushed towards unproductive life, but they only live for a few followers, she argued.
Just last year, the Madras High Court banned TikTok explaining that the app wasn't regulating pornographic content. Eventually, the ban was lifted. TikTok said it lost nearly $500,000 per day owing to the ban. 250 jobs were also at risk. More than a year later, the content on the platform confirms that TikTok neither took the ban seriously nor is worried about regulations.