India has banned TikTok and more than 50 other Chinese apps, like WeChat and Weibo.
In a statement, India’s Ministry of Information Technology said the ban was in response to “complaints” around user data being stolen or surveilled, but it could also be in response to political tensions between India and China.
India’s head of TikTok posted an update on Monday, stating that the company has been “invited to meet with concerned government stakeholders for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications,” and has not shared user data with “any foreign government.”
The ban took many by surprise, as India is one of TikTok’s most popular markets, with more than 120 million users. A “notice” that the app was blocked apparently greeted many users.
The app’s popularity has allowed aspiring performers and comedians a bigger platform, and this sudden ban left many wondering where to go. Anusmita Dutta, who has more than 350,000 followers, told the New York Times: “Real talent came from this app in India.” Some creators are hopping on Instagram or YouTube, and telling fans to follow them.
TikTok has been censored in India before: Last year it was temporarily banned over concerns that younger users were being exposed to harassment and dangerous content. Last week, one of its popular personalities, 16-year-old Siya Kakkar, was found dead. In May, TikTok star Faizal Siddiqui was criticized for a video in which he acted out an acid attack on a woman. In February, a teen was allegedly forced to walk naked in public over a TikTok he was involved in. There’s also been a heightened battle between TikTok and YouTube personalities.
A Chinese embassy spokesperson said the ban is “not conducive to consumer interests and the market competition in India” and “aims at certain Chinese apps on ambiguous and far-fetched grounds.”