The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has vacated the ban it imposed on the TikTok app in India
The interim order banning downloads of the TikTok app was given by the Madras High Court on April 3 and the app was subsequently removed from Google and Apple’s app stores in accordance with the High Court’s order.
The ban on the app has now been lifted contingent to steps taken by the app makers to introduce content moderation and regulation of obscene content on the platform.
Appearing on behalf of TikTok, Senior Advocate Isaac Mohanlal told the Madras High Court that the app has moderation technology in place to evict nude and obscene content, the reason why the app was banned in the first place. Petitioners had alleged that TikTok promotes pornography, child abuse and suicide. When the appeal against the ban reached the Supreme Court, the apex court directed the Madras High Court to consider a plea by the app developers on April 24.
After the hearing on Wednesday, a Bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and SS Sundar lifted the ban on TikTok. However, the court said that the company could be charged with contempt of court if it was found that obscene content on the platform is still not being moderated.
Commenting on the matter, TikTok released an official statement saying,
“We are glad about this decision and we believe it is also greatly welcomed by our thriving community in India, who use TikTok as a platform to showcase their creativity. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue serving our users better.
While we’re pleased that our efforts to fight against the misuse of the platform has been recognised, the work is never “done” on our end. We are committed to continuously enhancing our safety features as a testament to our ongoing commitment to our users in India.”
The app is currently not showing up on either the iOS App Store or Google Play Store and may not appear for around two weeks. The written court order vacating the ban on TikTok is expected to reach the Ministry of Electronics and information Technology (MeitY) shortly, who will then issue an order to Google and Apple to reinstate the app.
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.”