The Indian government banned Tiktok and 58 other mobile applications on 29th June 2020. You cannot download them from Google’s Play Store or Apple’s App store anymore. There are many speculations, conspiracy theories, and unnecessary drama going around the ban, especially because of TikTok. Though some of us may have tried to understand why and how these mobile apps were banned and what will happen next, the technicalities behind it are confusing and hard to understand. Here, I will try to explain everything in the simplest possible language and will discuss why this is not the end for “TikTok Stars.”
The ban imposed on TikTok and 58 other applications
First of all, we need to understand why the Indian government decided to ban these applications. There have been reports that suggested that apps originating from China are stealing user information and sending it to Chinese servers. Recently, Apple found out that TikTok was spying on millions of iPhone users. Though Apple immediately took action and fixed the issue, no one can be sure how much data TikTok might have stolen. Similar cases have emerged about other Chinese origin applications where there were reports that they are allegedly spying on the users and stealing information.
A few days back, there were rumours that the Indian government is planning to ban Chinese applications, but the Indian government issued a press release in which they said that there are no plans to take such action. However, on 29th June, the government announced that they have indeed banned 59 Chinese apps.
How the ban will be imposed
Now, this is the tricky part of the whole conversation. Google allows app developers to geo-target the user base for their apps. That means the app developers can decide which country users will get access to the application. Google also ban or block apps based on location if there is a court order or a request from the government.
Such bans or blocks are not limited to just application but to websites, videos, search results, and more. Google has a policy under which it shares all the information with users about the steps they took based on the governments or courts’ requests. You can also get content delisted based on copyright infringement reports. You can check an overview of the content removal requests made by India here.
The Indian government has used its power under section 69A of the IT Act using the provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009. The Act provides the government power to block websites, URLs, videos, applications, and other forms of information sharing over the internet to save the country’s safety, security, defence, sovereignty & integrity of India and to protect data & privacy of people of India. In simplest terms, if the government believes any app is against India’s or its citizen’s interest, it can get it removed and block all access to it. The Indian government did the same with many porn websites in 2018 after a court order.
After India made the request, Google initiated the process of removing access to the applications based on geo-location. That means if you are using Google Play store meant for Indian users, you won’t see TikTok on Google Play store. The same goes for Apple. Some users said that other applications are still visible on Google Play Store, but they are not available for download. It takes time for Google to remove the apps’ visibility from all servers and CDNs (Content Delivery Networks). The apps that are still visible will disappear from Google Play Store in a few days.
Those who have TikTok and other applications installed on their phones may keep on using them, but here is a catch. You have to install a Virtual Private Network to do so as the Indian government has instructed the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to these applications. When you open these apps, you will see an error message of “No connection.”
Not only the application, the ISPs have been instructed to block access to the associated websites as well. Some users stated that the sites of these apps are still functioning, and they were confused about why there is a ban on the app but not on websites such as Shein. Now, if you try to access Shein, it is not opening. The case is similar here. ISPs started blocking the site on 29th or 30th after receiving the orders from the government. It takes time for all ISPs to impose a ban. After restricting access to these websites, it will again take a few hours for the servers to impose a ban at all locations. Some ISPs complete the process quickly, like Airtel and Jio, the rest took a little more time.
Can you access the websites and applications?
Yes, you can. If something is there on the internet, chances are you can find a way to access it. Here, you can use VPN software (Virtual Private Network). What these applications do is they route the request from other countries. If the application is working at that location, you will be able to access the website or app.
There is one problem with this method, though. You will not be able to directly update the app from the App Store or Google play store even if you use a VPN. You will have to manually install the application whenever there is a new update using its apk (installation file). Keep in mind that most applications push updates almost every week, which means you will end up downloading the latest version every other week and that too only when you come to know about it. If the app is not updated on time, your mobile device may become vulnerable to malware attacks. Think about it. Are these apps worth this much trouble?
Is it the end of easy fame and money?
Believe it or not, the popular accounts of TikTok were making good money. If I say some of them were even making Rs.5,00,000 per month, it will not be an exaggeration. A social media influencer with millions of followers often attracts deals from the businesses. They get paid to endorse products, and sometimes they do not even have to name the product. Simple product placement in their video is more than enough for the companies. Fame was easy on TikTok, so was the money.
But now, “it is all gone.” This is what some “experts” are telling the TikTok users. No, it is not the end. There are countless options where an influencer can build his or her career. Youtube is testing features like TikTok and soon may come up with an option to create 15-second to one-minute videos with filters etc. Meanwhile, there is Instagram and Chingari that is of Indian origin. Is it easy to get famous on YouTube or Instagram like TikTok? No. It is not. You will have to be more creative and come out of the shell. Only lip-sync videos will not make you famous. Original and unique content bring more followers and views that will later become a source of income. But it takes time and effort.
To be honest, easy money never stays. Social media stars and influencers have a very short fame-life, and eventually, most of them shift to regular jobs in the real world. If you are serious about a career as an influencer or social media “star,” it is better to sit and think about it. Just picking up the mobile and making videos won’t work. You have to understand how hashtags work or how you can find topics to create content. From writing scripts to creating and editing videos, there is a lot you need to learn. Apps like TikTok may promise you a good future, but it is only for a short span.
There is no way a ban on an application will end your career. There are countless options available, and you can find a way to use other applications. I would suggest you first to try Instagram or Chingari. In a few days, you will get hold of these apps. Please do remember that content in regional languages is famous on other apps, too, and not just on TikTok.
What else can you do?
Literally a lot! The Internet is a Pandora box of information. You can learn new things. From language to programming, there are tutorials on everything. You can find simple tutorials on how to use Instagram as well. Learn about SEO, social media apps, their structure, how they work, what others do on social media and how you can promote yourself and then give it a try. Learn something new every day and do not hold back just because you lost an account with 25,000 or 2.5 million followers. It is part of life and you have to learn how to deal with it.
Can TikTok make a comeback?
Yes, it can, but it is highly unlikely that it will come back any time sooner. This is not the first time questions were raised against TikTok. There are many complaints against the application that the government will think at least ten times before allowing them to do business in India. From security flaws to malicious activities of the app and vulgar content, there is so much they have to fix before even being considered for a hearing. It is same with all other apps. Even Vego was quite famous among creators.
Though TikTok says, they are working with the Indian Government and trying to figure out a way to get things sorted. Still, the irony is right there in the fact that they come from a country where basic apps like Whatsapp and Snapchat, along with many others do not work as the government has banned them. So sit back, relax, and try to find another source of entertainment and time pass.
P.S. Maybe TeamNawab was the “panuati” as they posted “We are back” video on 29th June or maybe “CarryMinati ki haye lag gai TikTok ko.” Jokes apart, can we get over TikTok now? Please?