The popular mobile app TikTok has been growing at a rapid pace, quickly becoming one of the most popular mobile apps today. The basic premise of the app lets people create short, mobile-friendly videos that can be synced with existing sound clips(songs, movie dialogues, or a political speech).
A significant number of Indians use the app with many being from Tamil Nadu. This has led to many people using the app to imitate, disagree with or make fun of politicians on the platform.
Due to this freedom to express opinions freely to a large audience, some politicians have started fearing the app’s power to change and challenge the political narratives.
One such politician is the AIADMK leader and MLA Thamumun Ansari. Ansari raised the demand while claiming that the app is “damaging” to the Indian culture. This was followed by Tamil Nadu Information Technology Minister M Manikandan stating that the state government will seek the help of the Central Government in banning the TikTok app.
Manikandan also compared the app to the Blue Whale challenge, saying that it will be tackled in a similar manner to the ‘suicide game’ blamed for the deaths of multiple youths throughout the country.
“Look at Saudi Arabia or China, they all have a system to restrict such apps. India is known for family culture, and the great values we teach our children. Most of the TikTok videos are nothing but dances and songs presented in a vulgar way. Many people are upset about this. If the government cannot ban it, I will follow up this issue seeking better regulation,” Ansari said when questioned about this demand.
The comparison to Saudi Arabia and China poses a stark danger as it portrays a mindset that believes only one ideology is right and any opposition to an existing notion is criminal in nature. Countries like Saudi and China are known for restricting their citizens’ freedoms and are operated very differently from a democracy like India hence taking social lessons from them should be the last priority for our elected leaders.
Congress has critisized the move with National Spokesperson Khushbu saying It is an app that people use for personal use. People who have been using it are personally uploading their own videos. If you have a problem with that, don’t watch it. If you ban everything on the basis of whether or not it matches with your values, nothing will be left out… If this app deserves some regulations, we can frame rules and do that instead of banning it,”.
This is a welcome stance from a national party but the question still remains on whether government’s trying to ban every platform that offers freedom of speech is a healthy state for our democracy.
Note: This article contains the writer’s opinions on the facts.