The youth in Tamil Nadu may soon lose their favourite app, TikTok, as the government seems determined to have it banned.
The Centre would be approached for a ban on TikTok, just like how the state government had taken effective steps when people were worried about the threat posed by the Blue Whale app, TN Information Technology Minister N. Manikandan told the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.
The minister was replying to a demand from the Manithaneya Jananayaga Katchi member Thamimun Ansari for a ban on the TikTok app.
The Nagapattinam MLA alleged that the app was being used for spreading obscenity and also to create law and order problems. “TikTok offended our culture”, he said.
Conceding that the ban demand was justified, minister Manikandan said the government would urge the Centre to ban TikTok app, “just as we had taken steps against the Blue Whale app server functioning from Russia”. The minister, however, did not specify any time frame for carrying out his promise.
While it is debatable if TikTok, which mostly seems a fun thing resorted to by the youth, can be bracketed with the fatal Blue Whale, opinion is divided if the hugely popular app – one estimate is that it has over 500 million users across Asia -should be, and could be, banned.
Created by ByteDance, a Chinese Internet technology company, TikTok is mostly used by the youth to upload and view lip-synced music, videos and such other performances – picking up funny scenes from popular movies. The app also has a variety of filters and edit features that make the sync-uploaded videos attractive for the viewers.
Politicians and policemen have been targeted by the TikTok youth for mocking and trolling in recent months. There have been some cases of young men being arrested in different parts of TN for posting videos poking fun at the police. And there have been some more serious cases of the app being abused for harming unsuspecting girl students and housewives – for instance, there was a recent case of the Chennai police busting a flesh trade racket that had used morphed pictures of women downloaded from TikTok to lure customers.
Last week, the Government Arts College at Salem suspended a few students for uploading a video that showed their Tamil lecturer like the Kollywood comedian Vadivelu. And recently, police in Salem issued advisories to schools and parents to guard against their wards logging on to TikTok after several complaints poured in that pictures of schoolgirls morphed with erotic content was posted on the app.
In one tragic case, a youth died recently trying to enact suicide by slitting throat for a TikTok video while another young man had killed himself last October by throwing himself before a train at Vyasarpadi, a Chennai suburb, after friends ridiculed him for his TikTok videos dressed like a woman.