The curious case of TikTok’s rise in India

The rise of the Chinese short video-sharing app TikTok in India has been so spectacular over the past year that it’s currently nearly impossible for any social media user to not have come across its content.
For the young generation though, especially the teenagers and even younger children, the app needs no introduction.

In fact, according to a new report from mobile app intelligence firm sensor Tower, out of the 18.8 crore new users that TikTok added globally within the first quarter of 2019, 8.86 crore were from India.
Globally, TikTok has far crossed 1.1 billion installs and within the first quarter of 2019, it emerged as the third most installed app within the world, ranking behind only Facebook’s WhatsApp and messenger at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, the analysis showed.

But how do you explain the dramatic rise of this app owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance?

“The rise of TikTok (formerly Musical.ly), highlights where the future of the internet in India is: video,” leading tech policy and media consultant Prasanto K. Roy told IANS.
“Of the 500 million smartphone and mobile broadband users in India, well over three hundred million consume predominantly or solely video. And as we get the next two hundred million online by 2020, the video-only share will rise to over seventy per cent,” he added, indicating the potential for further growth of video sharing apps within the country.

So far, the large drivers of internet adoption in India have been WhatsApp, messenger and Facebook, with extra help from shopping and taxi apps, and some streaming services like Hotstar.
“No other app before Musical.ly/Tik Tok really went to a video-only, and especially an interactive video platform. for instance, its ‘react’ feature lets users to film their reaction to a video and its ‘duet’ feature permits users to film a video aside another video,” Roy added.

Another reason for its growth is that the app permits individuals to express themselves even if they do not have the gift of the gab. So anyone who feels a bit ostracized in platforms like Facebook and Twitter may find solace on TikTok.

“TikTok caters to those who feel left out on other primarily-text platforms, either due to literacy or language inadequacy,” Roy pointed out.
However, the expansion of TikTok has not been without its share of controversies.
Hearing a petition filed by an advocate, the Madras high court earlier this month asked the Centre to ban the app, saying it “encourages pornography” and is spoiling the future of youths and the minds of kids.

TikTok on Friday said as part of its commitment towards providing a positive in-app environment for its users in India, it had removed over six million videos that have violated its “Community Guidelines”.
TikTok conjointly said it’s stopped permitting users below thirteen years to login and create an account on the platform.
“Unfortunately, social media has been an unsafe space and a platform like this (TikTok) which draws kids in, and therefore possible predators, needs to be used with care,” Roy aforementioned.