When parents hold their babies for the first time, they only wish one thing – they wish to raise the child in a safer, healthier and happier world.
And, if you are also one of those parents, then you might be able to relate – why we feel every parent should push for a ban on TikTok.
There are two types of parents in India right now – One who knows what TikTok is. And, the other, who is in complete darkness.
If you fall in the latter category – then let us explain the world of TikTok to you.
TikTok is a short-video social media platform powered by music. Sounds harmless right? In the midst of celebrity videos and harmless entertaining videos, there lie videos of people defying gravity, imitating celebrities, dancing dangerously in front of moving cars.
But what’s more shocking is the fact that the app is a one-stop platform for everything that any parent wants her kids to be away from – obscenity, child labor, cyberbullying, cringes, and much more.
As per the report, among the seemingly innocent videos of mocking celebrities or phenomena from popular culture on TikTok, are the sexually suggestive videos by men and women.
And sadly, a lot of these sexually suggestive videos involve children.
As a parent, you would be shocked to know that many of the videos casually mention rape methodology in Indian languages. These videos go beyond staging dry humping scenes and feature children used as props by adults for recreating sexually-loaded songs.
Some of the videos may give you a feeling that you are watching pornography.
As the app is majorly used to enact popular film scenes, what is shocking is the fact that you could easily stumble over obscene dialogues objectifying women from softcore pornographic films.
After knowing this, any parent would welcome the judgment of Tamil Nadu High court to ban the app because of its often sexually explicit content, among other things.
And, there has been a similar demand in Karnataka.
As per TOI, the Karnataka State Commission for Women (KSCW) is planning to submit a writ appeal to the Supreme Court to ban the usage of the app.
Nagalakshmi Bai, the head of Commission says,
“TikTok is used by everyone and it encourages pornography.
The videos that children, using the app, make are overtly sexual in nature, which is a reason for concern. We are worried about the ill-effects the app could have on the young minds.
Recently, there were incidents in Bengaluru and Mumbai involving children, where a teenaged by sexually assaulted his younger sister.
Apps like these are a reason that women are objectified.”
But is it just we, Indian parents, who are paranoid about the app?
On February 27, the US authorities slapped a fine of $5.7 million (Rs 40 crore) on TikTok to settle allegations of child privacy law violation. It was accused of collecting personal data from users under the age of 13 without seeking parental consent.
A December 2018 investigation by Motherboard, a Canadian-American online tech news publication, found a section of users soliciting nude images from children who use the platform.
Knowing the risks that this app exposes kids to, we definitely don’t feel banning this app will symbolize curbing free speech. It is the step in the right direction towards making social media platforms to take more accountability.
But does banning solve the ‘real’ problem?
If we want to be ready for the future, we feel India needs to do much more than banning apps that compromise with child safety.
For starters, experts believe India needs to include cyber laws that specifically protect children’s privacy. Suneeth Katarki, the founding partner at Bengaluru-based Indus Law, told Quartz:
“The protection under existing laws is restricted to content that exposes children in an obscene, indecent or sexually explicit manner, involves abuse, sexual harassment, or child pornography,”
Nitish Chandan, a cybersecurity specialist and founder of The Cyber Blog India and project manager of Cyber Peace Foundation shares with TNM,
“A better idea would be a software regulator which can flag these platforms as unsafe for those under 18 at least. We also need to start demanding better accountability from platforms.”
For instance, they should not just be getting away with saying they have AI tools to flag inappropriate content; there needs to be some investment into safety and trust also, even if it means setting up manual teams.”