Indian Lawmakers Call for TikTok Ban Due to 'Cultural Degeneration'

Photo: Altaf Qadri (AP)

There’s pressure building in India to regulate the shortform video app TikTok, with some lawmakers pushing for the platform to be blocked as a vessel for societal decay.

M. Manikandan—the information technology minister of the Indian state Tamil Nadu—said on Monday the state government will recommend the app be banned in Tamil Nadu, according to the Economic Times. The statement was a response to state legislator Thamimun Ansari. The Hindustan Times reports that Ansari said young users get hooked on the app, which is pushing them down “the path of cultural degeneration.” He referenced posts that are sexually explicit, and content that alters people’s faces—seemingly a reference to deepfakes.

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Manikandan reportedly agreed with Ansari and said the state would seek assistance from the central government to ban TikTok.

As The Next Web points out in their coverage of this issue, a recent report from India claims that in December alone, one distress line counselor in southern India received 36 calls from children who reported being bullied on TikTok. And in October, a person reportedly died by suicide after they were mocked for videos they posted on the app.

TikTok sent Gizmodo a statement explaining the company is in the process of hiring a chief nodal officer to be based in India “in order to better coordinate with law enforcement agencies,” and the platform has “robust measures to protect users against misuse, including easy reporting mechanisms that enable users and law enforcement to report content that violates our terms of use and community guidelines.”

Explaining his position the The Indian Express, Ansari pointed to censorship efforts in other countries.“Look at Saudi Arabia or China, they all have a system to restrict such apps,” Ansari told the newspaper. “Most of the TikTok videos are nothing but dances and songs presented in a vulgar way... If the government cannot ban it, I will follow up this issue seeking better regulation.”

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Jennings Brown

Senior editor and reporter at Gizmodo