TikTok, the video creation and sharing platform which has been removed from the top two app stores on a court order for hosting inappropriate content, is hoping for a “positive response” in the entire episode. “Irrespective of what’s going on we are hoping that the government comes up with a very positive response. I have full faith in that,” Sumedhas Rajgopal, Strategy and Entertainment Lead of TikTok India, told indianexpress.com.
The popular app, owned by China’s ByteDance, was removed from Google Play and Apple App stores after the Madras High Court issued an interim order demanding the same. The Supreme Court is also looking into the matter.
“It is an interim ban. For us the business is going on. The community is super active, where we still have active conversations,” Rajgopal said. The app has over 120 million active users in India, one of its largest markets. While new users can’t download the app from the big app stores, those who already have the app can continue creating and sharing videos.
“It’s a great tool and the creators have actually seen the potential and they’re constantly creating,” Rajgopal said. “I think it’s an exciting internet age in our country. We have really empowered a lot of people with the potential internet has. It is amazing that today we are getting creators from all parts of India and that’s because everyone’s moved into this internet phase of things.”
Rajgopal said the company was open to addressing the concerns… “to understand what the community is talking about and what the government wants”. He said the platform was trying to make a lot of efforts to integrate those conversations in order to ensure that this is a safer space for anyone to be involved. “So we have a safety center and are empowering even a creator with a lot of tools to safeguard himself.”
TikTok offers normal content moderation along with machine learning to pick up and flag content, plus human intervention which is constantly checking the content, Rajgopal underlined. “We are listening and understanding how can explain the machine to flag content better”. He said the company had recently taken down over six million videos from the platform.
The community guidelines, he said, were being made clear to the creators and they were engaging with the stars on the platform to help carry the message to these users. “The message is spreading and you have some creators who are reaching out to their fans on the platform,” he said, adding that TikTok has even added a bit of gamification to messaging to ensure people are engaging with it.
On protecting children on the platform, Rajgopal said the machine learning is able to identify a young creator and maybe not allow them to engage with a stranger. He said the TikTok legal team is engaging actively with the government to understand the policies. “It’s an ongoing process. So we are constantly updating the systems, putting more checks in place.”
Interestingly, TikTok was banned for a few days in Indonesia last year because the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology thought some of the videos were negative and a bad influence on the youth. However, within a week, the company announced it would set up a team of censors to monitor inappropriate content and got the ban lifted.