TikTok Lite, a version that works on lower-end smartphones, has seen ratings crash to 1.1 stars. India is the fastest-growing and the largest market for TikTok, where it has close to 200 million monthly active users. While TikTok saw 107 million downloads in April 2020 globally, a 2.5x increase from the previous year, nearly 22% of those came from India.
The controversy started after a video by YouTube celebrity Carry Minati roasting a TikTok star, which got over 70 million views, was taken down on Friday after reports of cyberbullying. This caused his fans to start tweeting about banning TikTok.
Meanwhile, a TikTok influencer Faizal Siddiqui, who has over 12 million followers, was accused of propagating violence against women in one of his videos. Siddiqui contested that it is a month-old video and has been edited to mislead viewers.
The National Commission of Women has also said it will write to the government to ban TikTok. Several other videos on the platform, including those showing cruelty towards animals, have shown up. TikTok said Siddiqui’s account has been suspended, and other objectionable videos on the platform have also been taken down.
“According to policy, we do not allow content that risks safety of others, promotes physical harm or glorifies violence against women. The behaviour in question violates our guidelines and we have taken down the content, suspended the account, and are working with law enforcement agencies as appropriate,” a spokesperson said.
TikTok has faced controversies in the past in India as well, as it was banned by the Madras high court for three months in April 2019 after being accused of promoting pornographic content and exposing children to predators.
However, the popularity of the app continued to grow, with Indians clocking 5.5 billion hours on TikTok in 2019 — an increase of over five times from the 900 million hours spent in 2018, according to data from analytics firm App Annie. TikTok had managed to outstrip the growth of Facebook in the key market for global user domination.