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Google blocks TikTok downloads in India over pornography concerns

Like all social media platforms, TikTok is struggling to curb toxic content.
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Chesnot via Getty Images

Today, Google blocked TikTok downloads from its Google Play store in India, and Apple has been asked to do the same. The move comes after India's federal government sent a letter to the companies requesting that they abide by a state court's decision to ban the popular video app. India's concern is that TikTok encourages pornography and makes child users vulnerable to sexual predators, Reuters reports.

India is one of TikTok's largest markets. The app has reportedly been downloaded more than 240 million times in India alone, and in a statement, TikTok India says it has more than 120 million monthly active users. Those users will not be impacted by the removal of the app from the Google Play store.

TikTok has been a huge success, but like other social media platforms, it's struggling to curb the spread of toxic content. Earlier this year, the US Federal Trade Commission fined the company $5.7 million over child privacy violations. When TikTok attempted to right those wrongs, it ended up mistakenly deleting users' accounts. And China has called for short-form video apps like TikTok to be responsible for the content their users upload.

In response to the concerns raised in India, TikTok has removed more than six million videos that violated its terms of use and community guidelines. But as TechCrunch reports, that might do more to show the scope of the problem than it does to prove TikTok has addressed the underlying issue. At this point, it's unclear if Apple will block TikTok downloads or what the company will have to do to get back in India's good graces. What we do know is that TikTok, like its peers, will have to find a way to monitor the content it shares.

TikTok India shared the following statement with local press:

"We welcome the decision of the Madras High Court to appoint Arvind Datar as Amicus Curae (independent counsel) to the court. We have faith in the Indian judicial system and we are optimistic about an outcome that would be well received by over 120 million monthly active users in India, who continue using TikTok to showcase their creativity and capture moments that matter in their everyday lives."

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