TikTok faces criticism as NCW leads calls for ban over hate content
TikTok, a video-sharing social networking site owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, where millions of Indians post short videos of just about anything is in the midst of a storm with the National Commission of Women and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh both turning their guns on it.
Rekha Sharma, the chairperson of the National Commission for Women said that several videos of women being abused have beein shared on the platform. She said on Twitter that she is of the strong opinion that the platform should be banned
She added that the app was also “pushing youngsters towards unproductive life where they are living only for few followers”
She said her attention was drawn to a video where a person seemed to be throwing acid on a girl. “We wrote to TikTok to take it down and they cooperated. Soon, we were shown hundreds of videos, with abusive content; videos inferring rape, domestic abuse and molestations. We got in touch with TikTok and showed them some more of the videos; we are waiting for their response,” said Sharma.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s paper, Organiser, in an editorial accused TikTok of enabling Chinese propaganda, harbouring Islamic terrorism and of allowing Muslim men to flout safety measures.
“TikTok’s censorship rules which allows all such content is very sensitive when it comes to China. It is clear that it censors posts in India that mention China or Tibet. It is known that TikTok, a video-sharing social networking service, is owned by a Chinese company called ByteDance. However, it is very concerning that the company which is concerned only about China is allowing violent content including videos that glorify rape, acid attacks and terrorism,” the editorial read.
On Twitter, Delhi BJP spokesperson Tajinder Pal Bagga, too, called for a ban of the platform, and urged BJP leader Maneka Gandh, also an animal activist, to take action against videos showing cruelty to animals.
The calls for ban have been accompanied by hundreds of users down-voting the app on the Android Playstore and it went from being rated 4 stars to 2 stars in a matter of two days. An online petition to have the app banned has been initiated and the petitioner Abhiemanyu Anand Tyagi says that the platform promotes “love jihad”, “religious conversions”, “corona carriers”, “child sex abuse”, “rape threats”.
A TikTok spokesperson said that the platform clearly outlines in its terms of service and community guidelines what is not acceptable on our platform. It’s Twitter profile described the platform as “just an anti-fake news account”.
“Keeping people on TikTok safe is a top priority and as per the policy, we do not allow content that risks safety of others, promotes physical harm or glorifies violence against women. The behaviour in question violates our guidelines and we have taken down content, suspended the account, and are working with law enforcement agencies as appropriate,” the TikTok spokesperson said.
A senior official of the IT ministry said that the ministry usually deals with individual complaints of content on any platform, after which it asks the platform to take it down. “Law enforcement agencies sometimes inform us about disturbing content, and we get in touch with the company to take it down,” said the official.
Banning a platform, the official said, is rare. “If a platform routinely flouts norms, and does not take down content, then it can invite serious action from the Centre,” added this person who asked not to be named.
TikTok India has courted several controversies earlier. Last year in July, an RSS-affiliate, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, wrote to the Centre asking for a new law to test and regulate apps like TikTok as India does not have any regulations to monitor any illegal activity on such platforms.
Last month, TikTok clocked 2 billion users globally, and said there are 611 million users in India; most of them were on Android platforms.
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