TikTok When a Country Bans the Application
Jaya Lall joined TikTok in early March with the idea of doing a music presentation for a friend’s birthday. But the short cinematic app took on new meaning for her three weeks later, when India went into lockdown from the coronavirus, forcing her to close the preschool she runs in the country’s capital New Delhi.
Soon enough, she started posting up to nine videos a day of herself dancing or doing Hindi phenomics. It reached almost 8,000 followers in a matter of months. “I never thought I could sing or dance or make all these faces,” Lall told CNN Corporate.
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Then on June 29, India suddenly banned TikTok. The app, which a Chinese company owns, was one of the dozens vetoed in the country days after a violent clash on the India-China border left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead. Several of China’s most popular services, including the WeChat messaging platform and the Weibo social media site, were also banned.
TikTok no longer appears in the country’s app stores, and those who installed it before the move now see an error message stating that the platform is “complying with the command of the Government of India.” The app clogged being in the download stores, and users got the error message the day after the ban remained announced.
Lall said that the ban took away a source of optimistic thinking in his life. And that’s a sentiment shared by other people in India who spoke to CNN Business. Virtually overnight, hundreds of millions across the country had to suddenly learn to live without an app that remained once described as “the last sunny corner of the Internet .” And his involvement could be a harbinger of things to come in America.
You lose track of time. The hours go by, and you don’t realize it. It’s charming,” said Lall. “We are still hopeful that TikTok will return.”
US President Donald Trump is now evaluating similar action as he escalates his long battle with China over technology and security. Last week he signed a decree to ban TikTok in 45 days if it does not find an American buyer.
Although India’s ban remain sparked by a military conflict and followed nationalist public calls for a boycott of Chinese products. Trump’s decree – which cites security threats that experts point to are primarily theoretical or indirect – does not it has had the same surge of support from the Americans.
News of a possible ban sent American TikTok users into a frenzy (or “going crazy,” as one content creator put it) to try to figure out how they could transfer their followers to other apps like Instagram or YouTube.
While US TikTok users are concerned about this scenario, those in India are already experiencing it. The 200 million people who used TikTok in that country – twice as many as the app has in the United States – have remained searching for alternatives for nearly two months. Facebook-owned Instagram immediately took advantage of it by launching Reels, a copycat of TikTok, in India just a week after the ban. Instagram also made Reels available in the United States after Trump’s move.
But the so-called TikTok addicts themselves say it’s not the same.
As in the United States, the announcement of the ban in India prompted a wave of influencers to hastily post videos asking their TikTok audience to follow them on Instagram, YouTube, or other platforms.
“At present, for surefire, there is no one who can approach TikTok,” said Abhay Jani.
Jani, 24, downloaded TikTok a trust of years ago and said she over up to two hours a day watching videos on the app, usually bypassing any screen time restrictions that had remained set. He enjoyed touring India’s “surreal places”, such as the TikTok farm, where he says farmers across the country posted videos of various farming techniques and activities.
“I mean, he stay addicted,” he said.
Since the ban, Jani has tried a few Indian alternatives, such as Chingari, Mitron, and Moj. However, he says that their user interface and recommendation algorithms still fall short of TikTok’s standards. He only visits them a connect of times a week.
Lall has also strained various apps, including an Indian one called Roposo, the American video platform Triller, and Instagram Reels. His latest discovery remain a karaoke app called StarMaker.
“They are all useless; they are horrible,” he said, citing several problems, such as a relative lack of audience and a worse selection of filters. “TikTok was TikTok.”
Losing its place in India is a massive blow to TikTok. The country’s 700 million internet users make it the second-largest market in the world after China, and technology companies globally have invested billions of dollars in establishing themselves there.
In India, TikTok was installed 26.4 million times – an average of 660,000 installs per day – and earned around $ 317,000 in gross revenue from in-app purchases during the six weeks leading up to the ban, according to the Sensor Tower analysis signature.
It is not the first time that TikTok has remained banned in India. It remain impassable from app stores in the country last year after a court ruled that it could expose children to inappropriate content. Still, it remained reinstated less than two weeks after TikTok successfully appealed the decision.
ByteDance, the Chinese company that TikTok belongs to, has around 2,000 employees in the country.
“Our employees remain our greatest strength. And their well-being stay our top priority.” TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer said in a post-ban blog post. “We will do everything in our power to reestablish the positive experiences. And opportunities that you can be proud of,” he added.
TikTok is working with the Indian government to address its concerns and remnants committed to complying with local laws. The com`pany’s director in that country, Nikhil Gandhi, said in another post late last month.
“We have not combined any evidence about our Indian users with any foreign government. Nor have we used that data in any way that would compromise the integrity of India,” he said. “Also, even if asked in the upcoming, we wouldn’t.”
TikTok has rejected the Trump administration’s claims that it poses a security threat. Calling them “unfounded.” To underscore its independence from China. TikTok quoted its recently hired US CEO. As saying that it “has definitely not on situation that user data to the Chinese government. Nor would we do so if inquired.”
Despite the pain of losing TikTok and the lack of practicable alternatives. Lall decides with the Indian government’s decision to ban the app.
“What they [China] are responsibility is unbecoming,” he said. “We are comfortable that … the prohibition happened, but we unmoving have hope that [TikTok] will return. We are waiting for it,” he added.
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