The Centre has been asked by the Madras High Court to ban the popular Chinese video app TikTok, created by Beijing Bytedance Technology Co, which allows users to create and share short videos with special effects, saying it was “encouraging pornography”. The order also prohibits the media from telecasting videos made using the app. The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court, said children who were using TikTok was vulnerable to exposure to sexual predators.
Chennai Psychiatrist, Dr. Vivian Kapil echoes the above. “The app mentions 13+ years as the age criterion for using in its terms and conditions which is definitely not advisable considering the age inappropriate content posted in it. There are even instances of cyber bullying on users of this app which can be detrimental to one’s mental health. Placing a body/committee for constant monitoring, regulation of such online content is important rather than only planning a ban so as to prevent further emergence of such online contents in different domains/names,” says the psychiatrist.
While it is highly debatable if the ban would actually be of any help given the fact that there are many other social media platforms on the lines of TikTok that enables users to make short videos, the move is being highly encouraged by the youngsters and how!
Swathi, a student of Kingston University, Vellore, feels that the app indeed puts women at risk of inappropriate illicit content. “People have started using it, including people who were there just to create problems. They would share the videos among friends and make fun of the other girls. Sometimes they would edit it and use it for inappropriate reasons. The government has done a good thing by banning it,” says Swathi.
Surya. H. Bharatwaaj, student of Loyola College also feels that an app like TikTok cannot be considered a platform of honing acting skills. “It has created a bad ideology among the minds of Indian teens that ‘Tik Tok’ helps in developing one’s acting skills and also stands as a platform of recognition. It is of course not the healthiest part of a day to stand before the app more than twice, having numerous sets of dresses on the floor to change to the moods, multiple make-up features on the table, and bunking classes to earn recognition from an app called Tik Tok? I’m very happy in hearing the action of Madras High Court,” says Surya.
Niharka Singh too feels that the awareness of where to draw a line with such apps is necessary. “It should be banned as more number of people is distracted and it also excites people to do vulgar things to get fame,” she says.
The judges, Justices N Kirubakaran and SS Sundar, have also directed the central government to respond before April 16 if it would enact regulations such as the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act in the US to prevent children becoming online victims.
But with everything said and done, can a similar law be enforced here in India a country with a huge youth population that is hooked to social media platforms and with no age-appropriate regulations in place to check the usage and content, still remains a question.
- The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) is a United States federal law that applies to the online collection of personal information by persons or entities under U.S. jurisdiction about children under 13 years of age or children with disabilities.
- While children under 13 or children with disabilities can legally give out personal information with their parents’ permission, many websites - particularly social media sites, but also other sites that collect most personal info - disallow underage children or special children from using their services altogether due to the cost and work involved in complying with the law.