The option to download TikTok, a popular video-sharing app, has vanished from Google and Apple app stores in India after the Madras High Court banned its downloads, in setback for its Chinese developer Bytedance Technology’s efforts to tap India’s growing internet content market. Users still looking to download Tik Tok, have been reported to be looking for ‘TikTok download’ and ‘Tik Tok apk’ online to gain access to the app. TikTok ban also triggered a series of jokes and memes on social media.
Downloading TikTok allows users to create and share short videos with special effects which are hugely popular in India but conservative pressure groups and politicians say its content is inappropriate.
The high court in Tamil Nadu asked the government on April 3 to ban TikTok downloads, saying it encouraged pornography and warning that sexual predators could target child users.
The government sent a letter requesting Apple and Google to follow the state court’s order and not allow TikTok download, according to an IT ministry official.
Google blocked access to TikTok download in its Play store in India to comply with the court’s directive, a person with direct knowledge told Reuters on Tuesday. TikTok app was not available for download in the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store on Wednesday.
Google said in a statement it does not comment on individual apps but adheres to local laws. Apple did not respond to requests for comment.
A spokesman for TikTok in India declined to comment on the app’s removal, saying the matter was still in the courts.
The company had faith in the judicial system and was “optimistic about an outcome that would be well received by” its millions of users in India, he added.
TikTok had been downloaded more than 240 million times in India, app analytics firm Sensor Tower said in February. More than 30 million users installed the app in January 2019, 12 times more than in the same month last year.
Jokes, clips and footage related to India’s thriving movie industry dominate the app’s platform, along with memes and videos in which youngsters, some scantily clad, lip-sync and dance to popular music.
Bytedance challenged the court’s ban order in the Supreme Court last week, saying it went against freedom of speech rights.
The top court had referred the case back to the state court, where a judge on Tuesday rejected Bytedance’s request to put the ban order on hold, K. Neelamegam, a lawyer arguing against Bytedance in the case, said.opti
The state court has requested written submissions from Bytedance in the case and has scheduled its next hearing for April 24.
In its Supreme Court filing, Bytedance argued that a “very minuscule” proportion of TikTok content was considered inappropriate or obscene.
The company employs more than 250 people in India and had plans for more investment as it expands the business, it said.
(With inputs from Reuters)
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