Chinese short video platform TikTok has stopped working for users in India. The company has started sending out notices to its users informing them about the government’s ban and explaining that the service won’t work going forward. The app had earlier disappeared from Apple’s App Store and Google Play.
“Dear users, we are in the process of complying with the Government of India’s directive to block 59 apps. Ensuring this privacy and security of all our users in India remains our utmost priority," says a pop-up message on the app.
While the message is showing for most users, some have also reported problems with scrolling on the app. When they try to scroll, the app stops after one or two videos and shows a “network issue" notification, which could mean that telcos have started blocking the apps now. Government sources had earlier indicated that Internet service providers (ISPs) will be blocking these apps in the country.
Some users claim on social media that they were able to access TikTok on Play Store using VPN on a smartphone that has never been used to login to the app before. We used the same trick but still couldn't find TikTok on Play Store. However, we were able to locate the app's landing page on Play Store when we searched for it through a mobile browser. Though we installed the app, it couldn't play any content while falsely displaying 'No network connection' as the reason for it.
TikTok is amongst the 59 apps that the Indian government banned yesterday, alongside Helo and Vigo Video. The three apps are owned by Chinese Bytedance and have a total user base of around 300 million. TikTok, of course, commands most of these users with over 200 million monthly active users.
The government has said that the apps threaten user privacy for Indians and have hence been banned. Tencent’s WeChat, QQ Mail, QQ Newsfeed and QQ Music are also amongst the apps that have been banned, while UC Browser and UC News, which are indirectly owned by the AliBaba Group, are also banned.
In a statement from TikTok earlier, the company said it would be meeting the Indian government to make a representation to them. A lawyer assisting some of the banned aps said that the government hasn’t yet told the companies what evidence it has for these apps committing privacy violations.