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TIK-ED OFF

TikTok removed over 37 million videos from India in the first half of 2020

FILE PHOTO: The TikTok logo is pictured outside the company's U.S. head office in California
Reuters/Mike Blake
Keeping an eye.
  • Ananya Bhattacharya
By Ananya Bhattacharya

Tech reporter

Even before India banned TikTok completely, it was scrutinising content on the short-form video-sharing app closely.

In the first six months of this year, India had the highest number of law enforcement and government requests for user information and content restrictions.

Between Jan. 1 and June 30, over 37 million videos were removed in India for violating TikTok’s community guidelines or terms of service, according to the TikTok Transparency report released on Sept. 22.

This was a whopping 35% of the total 104 million videos taken down from the platform during this period.

Over half of the videos that were taken down around the world were either displaying adult nudity and sexual activities or posing a threat to minor safety. TikTok said nine in 10 videos were removed before they garnered any views.

In India, the short-form video app came under the scanner for glorifying acid attacks and sexual abuse. In April 2019, India had temporarily banned the Chinese app for allegedly promoting child pornography. In February 2019, the US federal trade commission (FTC) even slapped a fine of $5.7 million (Rs40 crore) on TikTok to settle allegations of child privacy law violation, but India’s cyber laws weren’t strong enough for that.

The company, on its part, had been trying to foster goodwill. As of November last year, it had been building teams to monitor local content across 15 different languages. This February, TikTok partnered with the Data Security Council of India to increase awareness for safe practices online.

Meanwhile, Indian authorities cracked down hard on the platform, submitting the highest number of queries to TikTok when it came to legal requests for user information. This was the case in the second half of 2019, too. “To obtain non-public user information, law enforcement must provide the appropriate legal documents required for the type of information being sought, such as a subpoena, court order, or warrant, or submit an emergency request,” TikTok said.

Only 15 countries had government agencies seeking to restrict or remove content on the platform. India ranked the highest among them with 55 such requests. The app complies with removing accounts that promote illicit activities, violent and graphic content, self-harm or suicide, hate speech, and harassment, among other things.

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