Tamil Nadu will appeal for a ban on TikTok the same way the Blue Whale challenge was “tackled”, Tamil Nadu Information Technology Minister M Manikandan said.
There is a very slight chance that anyone using a smartphone may not have come across a Tik Tok video showing a young netizen lip-syncing to a song. Launched in 2016 and originally called Musically, TikTok is one of the most popular apps today. Last year, it was also one of the most downloaded apps on Google Play and Apple Store.
Tik Tok allows users to create short videos and which can be synced with an sound clip – users usually prefer to use a song, movie dialogue, or a politician’s speech, whichever gets them more views. The platform’s popularity can also be gauged by the fact that videos by its users can also be found on other social media platforms such as YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.
2018 was a particularly good year for Tik Tok as it was recognised by the Google Play Awards 2018 as the Most Entertaining App of 2018. Come 2019 and the platform appears to be running into troubled waters. Tamil Nadu Information Technology Minister M Manikandan, in particular, does not find it entertaining.
On Tuesday, the minister said in the state Assembly that the Tamil Nadu government will approach the Centre to ban the mobile app, TikTok. This comes after Nagapattinam MLA Thamimun Ansari from the AIADMK raised the issue and said that the app is “damaging” to the Indian culture. Manikandan further added that Tamil Nadu will appeal for a ban on TikTok the same way the the Blue Whale challenge was “tackled”.
Nagapattinam MLA Thamimun Ansari told The Indian Express that he raised the issue after many parents and activists approached him telling that the Tik Tok is leading to a “serious crisis in culture.”
“Take a look at Saudi Arabia or China who have a system in place to restrict these kinds of apps. India is known for its family culture and the values the children are taught. Most TikTok videos are nothing but dances and songs shown in a vulgar way. Many are upset about this. If the government cannot ban it, I will seek better regulation,” Ansari said.
Sonia Arunkumar, a social media strategist in the Tamil film and media industry, told the Indian Express that apps such as TikTok and Dubsmash are popular for imitating prominent politicians, and also helps in making new movie songs viral. She cited the song Inkem Inkem Kavali from the 2018 Telugu movie Geetha Govindham and Rowdy Baby from the Tamil movie Maari 2 as examples in which the app played a key role in making them viral.
In addition, politics has found its way to Tik Tok with users uploading videos ridiculing politicians or expressing their support for them. Passionate speeches by Tamil leaders like Seeman, or Tamil Nadu BJP president Tamilisai Soundararajan are some popular examples on TikTok, Arunkumar said.
Soundararajan welcomed the state’s move. “I will be the first person to be happy if the app is banned. These apps are mostly being used to ridicule people like me. It has crossed limits. The app started for an entertainment purpose has now gone beyond all limits now. I welcome if there is a move to ban it,” she said.
Congress, on the other hand, disagreed with the move. Congress national spokesperson Khushbu said that Tik Tok is an app that are used by the people for personal use. People personally upload their own videos.
“If you have a problem with that, don’t watch it. If you ban everything on the basis of whether or not it matches with your values, nothing will be left out… If this app deserves some regulations, we can frame rules and do that instead of banning it.”