Not very long ago I was introduced to this ‘act-your-karaoke’ application called TikTok. My curiosity opened up a can of worms that day. One after another videos kept flooding in, each outweighing the cringe-o-meter of the previous. The theatrics on this app could put even the likes of Amitabh Bachan to shame. The crying never stops, the howling never dies down and the winking to every lyric of a song does not go away. The videos that came out of these applications were (and still are) so bad that it became a guilty pleasure for thousands. Many netizens and I enjoyed judging these self made ‘selfie actors’ and every time I came across one, I’d remember the quote I read a few years ago- a millennial’s description of selfie that defined itself as ‘khud ki lena’. Needless to say that definition still stands the test of time. TikTok gave birth to many social media influencers, it became that mother who would never discipline its ‘Putin on Vodka and Xanax’ syndrome stricken child. Even if it meant falling off trees and screaming like a banshee or lip syncing to a song that is no musical wonder but purely rides on the amount of glycerin the TikTok user put in his/her eyes. I do not joke when I say that some of the actors are so convincing that if they continued to cry a little longer, I too would cry for a long lost teddy bear that I never got as a child. The emotions run high and these actors mean serious business when it comes to ‘likes and viewers’.
It is a competitive world inside the Chinese-run app, TikTok. There are 120 million subscribers in India alone and maybe a little over a half billion around the world, everyone outperforming the foolish act of its predecessor. We live in a country which is obsessed with the Bollywood industry and it is a creepy slime that navigates through every nook and cranny of the society and devours you. Life in India is nearly incomplete without the one liners and songs that shoot out of this industry on a daily basis. So, it is only a natural progression for it to make it into the Indian database of TikTok and its users are obsessed with it. Even celebrities like Sunny Leone and Neha Kakkar have joined this application to ‘connect’ with their fans, probably because Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Google+ weren’t enough to showcase their true self.
So why am I talking about TikTok today? Well, the Madras High Court in Tamil Nadu recently banned the distribution of Tiktok in India. It is a temporary ban which has seen giants such as Apple and Google remove it from their Indian online app stores. While the ban is on the distribution of the app, it is still in functioning order for its users who already have it installed on their phones. The reason behind this serious decision is- ‘child pornography’. Yes, while the application itself is targeted towards the younger generation that includes teenagers and alike, there have been instances where child pornography has made its way into this app. Now there are many debates that are being thrown around, everyone with an expert opinion is making themselves heard in a crisis like this. I too feel strongly about this and have two school of thoughts, the first one being, Tiktok needs to pull up its socks. When you create an app with a concept such as this, you need to have your safeguarding policies in place. In today’s time where internet is so widespread and continues to be so thorough advancing technologies, it is mandatory for any interaction based apps to protect its users. Stringent laws within the app needs to be in place for disturbing content such as child pornography to not be passed around. It is a serious issue. When Instagram some years ago started to discover the dark side of its app, it took action in removing any objectionable content that fell into the category of porn and so on. It gave its users the access to tools to report such happenings, I believe TikTok did not have this in place. This flaw has been its biggest drawback and could not prevent it from falling into a pool of legal troubles. In the past few days or so, the company has removed close to 6 million objectionable content from its app and if they were self aware from the start the number on objectionable content could possibly have been next to nil.
While the app is to be blamed to a large extent, the Indian government needs to realise something as well. You cannot ban everything in this country. Simple. It’s a fact. Porn was banned because the legal the system felt it was giving rise to rape in the country but that has not seen the crime curb itself, has it? There might be laws in place to protect the victim but how strongly are they being implemented? Sometimes fingers need to be pointed towards oneself too. And now they have temporarily banned the distribution of tiktok however the application is still being used by its 120 million users, the objectionable content that was being put up by its users can still be uploaded till the company does not line up its ducks in a row. I will not be surprised if TikTok’s popularity skyrockets post the lift in this ban. The moment you deny someone of an option of having something, it becomes all the more important to seize it. I have watched enough legal dramas on Netflix to know and understand that freedom of speech/expression is being compromised here. I may not enjoy TikTok, I think every slapstick video uploaded on this app sucks out my grey matter but they are not harming anyone. They are not a disruption in the everyday workings of this country yet majority of the users who upload to entertain and be entertained have their right violated because of a crime they have no connection to. I may be a layman to the inner procedures of how cybercrime is tracked but I do now that in this century police forces have the ability to track down the perpetrators of crimes such as- child pornography and I am not talking strictly in the context of India. The application has run into troubles with the United States and was heavily fined for it but the first amendment of its citizens i.e. the freedom of speech was never compromised.
In all of this back and forth, the one person I truly feel sorry for is Rakhi Sawant, the social media maven who is a regular user of Tiktok must find herself in a state of panic. She cannot ‘Tiktok’ her acting skills to users who want to join the app and follow every tear that sheds itself off her heavily pumped cheek fillers. I think I can already hear her call another press conference on this issue of national importance just like the many media interactions she has done in the past. In all likelihood, the users of TikTok may hand over the baton of protest to this lady of many words and I am prepared to watch.
- Published on :