Apple and Google have pulled the extremely popular Chinese video app TikTok from their stores in India to comply with a court order prohibiting new downloads.
TikTok is a platform for sharing short videos made by users and was one of last year’s most popular apps worldwide. It was downloaded 663 million times in 2018 with roughly 40 per cent of new users coming from India.
Originally launched in April 2014 as Musical.ly, TikTok is a lip-synching app that boasts over 500 million users worldwide. Musical.ly was purchased by Chinese company ByteDance in November 2017 and officially absorbed into their already existing app called TikTok in August 2018.
Originally made for lip-synching to your favourite songs, TikTok has exploded in all different directions. The feed is filled with fifteen-second vertical videos across genres — from dancing to gymnastics to short-form comedy— their one uniting factor is some kind of audio (either a song or voiceover).
It has its own audio library, with a diverse catalogue including popular songs and silly voiceovers, as well as Snapchat-esque filters. Users can garner likes and comments similar to Instagram, and, of course, like any other social media platform, TikTok has its very own influencers, called “Musers.”
The move has frozen the expansion of the Chinese social media giant ByteDance, which owns TikTok, in its biggest market by users outside China. ByteDance’s rapid ascent has drawn government criticism abroad and in China, where the company has been warned for hosting “inappropriate” content.
On Tuesday, a judge upheld a previous order banning new downloads of the app, which was imposed in response to allegations in a civil case filed at the Madras High Court that TikTok is “degrading culture and encouraging pornography”.
Following the ruling, India’s government sent a letter to tech companies ordering them to enforce the order. According to a lawyer familiar with the case, ByteDance will continue its fight against the ban at the Supreme Court next week.
ByteDance said in a statement on Wednesday,
“We have faith in the Indian judicial system and we are optimistic about an outcome that would be well received by over 120 million monthly active users in India.”
Apple and Google declined to comment.