Tiktok Respond To Madras High Court Accusation Of Proliferating Child Pornography

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Philippines, Korea, China, and the United States are among the countries that have the most number of Tiktok app users. The app, according to the users, gives them entertainment and fun moments to interact with their peers and loved ones. But not all are happy with the video-sharing platform, while others find it to be disconcerting and has no positive implication to society.

The Madras High Court on Wednesday asked the central government to prohibit downloading of the Chinese Video app, Tiktok, indicating that it encourages pornography and obscenity among others.

Tiktok, created by Beijing Bytedance Technology, allows users to make and share short videos with special effects creatively. The app is popular among teens for its quirky and odd videos, which makes it more interesting to use. It is also home to every great challenge which spreads across different social media platforms and garners public attention since it was first launched in September 2016. It made its international debut one year later.

Today, the app has become popular in rural India, home to most of the country’s 1.3 billion people, as per a report from Reuters. Jokes, clips, and footage related to India’s culture and entertainment industry dominate the platform, along with memes of celebrities. The younger generation is mostly the app’s avid users, who share videos clad in scantily outfits, lip-sync and dance to popular music.  

However, the said court finds the app incompetent highlighting its presumed ‘bad effects’ to the people especially the youth.

The Madras High Court is one of the high courts in India established in the three Presidency towns of Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras thru a letter patent granted by Queen Victoria in 1862. It exercises jurisdiction, civil and criminal over some particular cities in India like Tamil Nadu, and moves under the letters patent and exclusive jurisdiction for the issue of writs based on the Constitution of India.

The IT Minister of Tamil Nadu has exchanged words with Reuters in February, who described that some of the videos being shared are ‘unbearable,’ while a Hindu nationalist group close to the Bharatiya Janata Party has called for the app to be banned permanently in the country. Also, same time in February, the BJP’s chief of information technology, Amit Malviya said that the party was tracking Tiktok conversations and called it ‘a brilliant medium for creative expression.’

But last month, the app was faced with litigation after a concern coming from the public surfaced which indicates that the app is becoming an avenue for the spread of child pornography throughout the country. The Madras High Court found the issue very alarming and made an appeal to the government of India detailing how children who were using the app became the newest target of sexual predators.

In relation to the recent issue of child pornography, which is rampant to other countries like the United States, the court sees the negative impacts of TikTok to its users, especially the younger ones. ‘Inappropriate’ content was Tiktok’s dangerous aspect, according to the Madras High Court saying that ‘there is a possibility of the children contacting strangers directly.’

Aside from asking the government to prohibit TikTok from being downloaded, the court also appealed to the media that videos produced from the app should not be broadcasted.

As the internet usage increases, reports of pornography and obscene contents bombarded India in the previous years. Facebook, on the other hand, is the top social networking site among others which houses predatory activities in the country. But the court did not make any appeal or necessary action to prevent those predators from sexually abusing children despite several complaints coming from the people. Tiktok, however, proves to be a safe app not until today.

Tiktok, whose video-only interface makes it easier to use than other platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, has been downloaded more than 240 million times in India, according to app analytics firm Sensor Tower.

After hearing complaints and a lawsuit from the court as well as the palace, a TikTok spokesperson responded to the allegations saying that the company is committed to abiding local laws and will wait for the court’s final order. The representative also added that Tiktok would take appropriate action to prevent the spread of pornography to its platform and continue to bring entertainment without risking its users.

Despite all the accusations, Tiktok believes that ‘maintaining a safe and positive in-app environment is the app’s priority.

Photo: Christoph Scholz

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