Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man and majority owner of a wide-ranging tech company- Reliance industries, is “looking into buying TikTok’s Indian operations”. As of now, Mr. Ambani is facing stiff competition from Microsoft, “who wants to buy India’s and Europe’s Tik Tok operations in addition to the United States.”According to a report by Wire, Indian think tanks have demanded that the Microsoft deal not include Indian user data if it does through.
On 29th June, the Indian government banned Tik-Tok following, the border dispute with China. PM Modi banned 59 Chinese apps, including Tik-Tok, citing national security concerns. The actual war between Asia’s two nuclear powers had now escalated into an economic one, with VIVO withdrawing as the title sponsor for marquee domestic Indian T20 league 2020 at the nth hour.
Tik Tok was a huge sensation in India and the ones hit the hardest by a ban on the app were the marginalized communities in our country. In April 2020, TikTok had 600 million active users within India-which constitutes almost 44% of India’s population. In addition to democratizing entertainment, the app had become an effective tool to mobilize for social education. The app provided an outlet for people during stressful and frustrating times of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tik-Tok was able to cut through societal barriers of caste, class, religion, gender, cultural and language. The app supported 15 different languages in India and was deemed user friendly. Hence, it could be used on budget-friendly phones. Rural women who lacked access to any big social media platform found a sense of confidence, fun, and fame through the app. Independent musicians found a way to get their songs to more people. One of the users deemed the platform as “most accepting”, as it celebrated male make-up artists or LGBTQ+ couples. But with the ban, most of Tik Tok’s users are shifting to other apps, losing followers, influence, and revenue.
This doesn’t take away from the fact that like any other social media, TikTok had its shortcomings. There were genuine concerns in the context of misinformation, sexually exploitative content or content targeting minorities, and certain castes. But despite complying with the Indian government’s requests and concerns regarding these issues in the past, Tik Tok fell prey to cultural and border war. despite its many faults, the app offered a strange form of liberation to Indian users. This joyful, easy to download app provided validation to people who had been denied it.