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TikTok Ban in India: A timeline of events that led to the app’s ban in the country

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Guess what is the number one most downloaded app on Google play store? It is Tiktok. Yes, the same TikTok that has been banned to download in India since 18 April 2019. TikTok boasts of about 0.5 billion users around the world, of which over 119 million are in India. Love it or hate it, you just can’t ignore, the worlds fastest growing 15-second video making app.

Thanks to meteoric rise its parent company Bytedance secured a $75 billion valuation in late 2018, making it the world’s most valuable startup. So much so that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in his typical style tried to buy TikTok, and then imitate it.

But even though TikTok enjoys record popularity, and makes record revenue (which more than tripled in the past year), it has become the most divisive app in India’s recent history.

Arrey! Whoever would’ve imagined so much grave sensitivity & hurt & offence taken & dissatisfaction, towards a silly ass app, that made people waste their time & mislead many to end their lives… Yes! stupidly. I don’t like TikTok, I never have & Yes! I’m happy it got banned.

— Kubbra Sait (@KubbraSait) April 18, 2019

TikTok has come under fire for allegedly allowing ‘pornographic’ and ‘sleazy’ content to propagate, especially among its younger audience. It’s also been alleged, in several countries no less, that the app is proving to be a fertile hunting ground for paedophiles.

So how did this happen? How do so many people love and hate this lip-sync and video sharing app at the same time?  Here’s a timeline of events that got the TikTok app from its boom to ban in India.

TikTok

September 2016: TikTok is launched as Douyin in China in September 2016.

September 2017: TikTok is launched outside of China.

November 2017: China’s Bytedance buys 15-second fame app Musical.ly for nearly $1 billion. Musical.ly is already a sensation among teenagers in the Americas and Europe, while TikTok, owned by Bytedance, is only popular among youth in Asia.

June 2018: Musical.ly reaches 100 million monthly active users, according to the company. TikTok touted 500 million monthly active users in June.

July 2018: TikTok is banned in Indonesia for ‘negative content’.

Days later, the Indonesia government overturns the ban on the app.

Chinese video app Tik Tok to set up Indonesia censor team to overturn ban: Report https://t.co/5eCm2Z6XQQ

— Manila Bulletin News (@manilabulletin) July 5, 2018

August 2018: Bytedance announces it is shuttering Musical.ly and will move users to a revamped version of its homegrown competitor TikTok.

October 2018, a 24-year-old from Chennai allegedly commits suicide following harassment by TikTok users for posting videos of himself dressed as a female.

November 2018: TikTok is sitting at the top of the US App Store. It also surpasses Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat in monthly installs for the first time.

The same month, Sensor Tower data announced that TikTok has more than tripled its revenues in the past year. TikTok grew its user spending on in-app purchases some 275 percent or 3.75x year-over-year last month to more than $3.5 million worldwide.

Jan 2019: S Ramadoss, founder of the Pattali Makkal Katchi party in Tamil Nadu, asks the state government to ban TikTok, saying it distracts children and leads them to be sexually perverse.

Feb 2019: Tamil Nadu Information Technology minister M Manikandan says Tamil Nadu government will seek center’s help to seek a ban on TikTok for causing degradation of Tamil Nadu’s culture and leading to issues related to law and order in the state.

Days later, a college student dies, and two of his friends are severely injured, after their motorcycle rams into a truck while making a TikTok video.

April 2018: Advocate and social activist Muthu Kumar files a plea in the Madras high court on 1 April to ban TikTok for its “pornographic” content and its potential of exposing children to sexual predators.

Two days later, on 3 April, Madras high court demands center to ban TikTok and prohibits media to broadcast any content created on TikTok.

Why has Madras High Court ordered a ban on download of @TikTokIndia app? Is it fair? What is #TikTok doing about it? @Nandiniwhy has all these answers. @tiktok_us pic.twitter.com/DXsivMTKjx

— Tech2 (@tech2eets) April 4, 2019

On the 12th of the month, TikTok responds saying it removed six million videos for not complying with its community guidelines.

On 13 April, 19-year-old is allegedly shot dead by his friend in Delhi as they pose with a pistol to make a video on TikTok.

The same day, TikTok is reported to have gained 88.6 million new users in India alone in the first quarter of 2019. Interestingly, the report also points out that Android was the dominant platform for TikTok with 99 percent of TikTok downloads coming from the Google Play Store.

Come 15 April, the supreme court refuses to stay the Madras high court’s ban on TikTok on grounds that it is temporary and the matter is still being heard at the high court.

And on 18 April, TikTok is removed from App Store and Play Store following the government order.

Fortunately or not, the ban is not a new page in TikTok’s playbook. Like mentioned in the timeline of events above, in July last year the app was banned in Indonesia for ‘negative content’, but in the span of eight days, TikTok promised to regulate its content and got the ban overturned. Would Bytdance manage the same in India as well? That remains to be revealed till the Supreme Court’s hearing on 22 April about the same.

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