Google and Apple have pulled TikTok from their respective stores in India, one of the app’s biggest user bases, according to reports from Reuters and Quartz. The move follows a request from the state court on April 3rd to ban access to TikTok on Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store after concerns were raised that people were using it for pornographic purposes and exploiting children.
TikTok has been downloaded more than 230 million times in India, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower. A TikTok representative told The Verge the company has “faith in the Indian judicial system,” adding that “we are optimistic about an outcome that would be well received by over 120 million monthly active users in India.”
TikTok encouraged teens and young adults to participate in “cultural degradation”
The Indian state court’s investigation into TikTok has been ongoing for months. A third-party investigation into the app and earlier calls from the government led to people asking for TikTok to be banned entirely. M. Manikandan, information technology minister of the Indian state Tamil Nadu, announced in February that the government would recommend the ban. There were concerns from lawmakers that TikTok encouraged teens and young adults to participate in “cultural degradation.”
A TikTok representative told The Verge at the time that the company was working on hiring a chief nodal officer based in India who would work “to better coordinate with law enforcement agencies,” adding that there were “robust measures [in place] to protect users against misuse.”
Still, concerns about the potential abuse of minors on the platform and other concerns about hateful or pornographic content are shared by lawmakers outside of India, too. The app’s parent company, ByteDance, was ordered to pay $5.7 million at the end of February to settle accusations that it violated children’s privacy law. The app, then called Musical.ly, was reportedly operating in violation of the Children’s Online Protection Policy Act (COPPA) by not asking minors to get a parent or guardian’s permission to use the app. Those measures are now in place, and children under the age of 13 now operate with “extensive limitations on content and user interactions,” according to a statement at the time.
The Verge has reached out to Google and Apple for comment.
Update April 17th, 00:30AM ET: The story has been updated to include comment from TikTok and confirmation that Apple has removed TikTok from the App Store in India.