TikTok usage in India has led teens and young adults to participate in acts of “cultural degradation,” according to Indian lawmakers, who are asking the government to take action against the app.
The government appears to be listening. M. Manikandan, information technology minister of the Indian state Tamil Nadu, said the state government will recommend that TikTok be banned in Tamil Nadu, according to a report from The Economic Times. Nagapattinam lawmaker Thamimun Ansari raised the issue in the Central Legislative Assembly, telling The Economic Times, “I raised an issue forwarded to me by community welfare workers that the mobile application (TikTok) was acting as a platform for heated debates inimical to law and order, and sharing of sexually-explicit material.”
Concern over harmful and extreme content spreading on TikTok isn’t a new issue. Users around the world have encountered different forms of extremist content while using the app, including anti-Semitic content and racist videos. Lawmakers in India grew particularly concerned after sexually explicit content — including references to possible deepfake videos — and extreme cases of bullying were reported. A story from The New Indian Express reported that in December 2018, 36 teens spoke to crisis lines about experiencing cyberbullying on TikTok. One person even reportedly committed suicide following bullying over videos posted on TikTok.
While the issue doesn’t just affect users in India, a large portion of TikTok’s user base does live in India and other Asian countries. There are 20 million active users in India alone, according to statistics from January. A TikTok representative told The Verge the company was in the process of hiring a chief nodal officer based out of India in order “to better coordinate with law enforcement agencies.”
In spite of that, Ansari told The Economic Times that if the government does not ban the app, he and his team “will follow up this issue seeking better regulation.”