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Chinese TikTok hits home in India

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The TikTok app logo. DANISH SIDDIQUI / REUTERS

In a funny turnaround, India has become the world champion in TikTok in less than a year. This Chinese social network, which is to video what Snapchat is to the photo, had started rather badly in the subcontinent. Accused of conveying images either pornographic or likely to encourage young people to take risks risking their lives, TikTok had been banned in spring 2019 in the south by the Madras court (Tamil Nadu). In the process, the Modi government had demanded that the ByteDance group, owner of the controversial application, control its content, failing which TikTok would be banned from staying in India.

Read also Understanding TikTok, the favorite application for teenage fans

The interested party complied and quickly obtained free access to this gigantic market of 1.35 billion inhabitants. Today, the short video sharing platform (generally lasting a few seconds) has 277 million subscribers in the country, which is already more than half the number of users of WhatsApp messaging, and more than triple the number of Instagram subscribers.

Real explosion

According to the digital analysis company Sensor Tower, Indians now represent 45% of new subscribers to TikTok. “This is due to the fact that in India the population surfs the web mainly from mobile devices. By 2021, more than 600 million people will have access to the Internet, including 470 million from a mobile phone. It's a real explosion “, recently explained to the business newspaper Mint Nikhil Gandhi, the man who has run TikTok India in Bombay since October 2019.

“Not only TikTok controls hundreds of thousands of content a day to please the authorities, but in addition, it works with the police in certain regions such as Karnataka, Kerala and Uttarakhand, to do prevention by posting videos that alert young people about the dangers they face “, says Santosh Kumar, CEO of Digibooster, a start-up specializing in social media marketing.

Some teenagers had in fact gotten into the annoying habit of filming themselves in dangerous conditions, for example bending over the open door of a fast-moving train. From now on, TikTok claims to immediately delete the user account of anyone broadcasting these types of images, without the general public knowing exactly where the boundaries were established.

Bollywood celebrities

The other reason for the meteoric success of the Chinese platform comes from the excessive taste of the Indians for cinema and cricket. Nikhil Gandhi was previously responsible for digital content for The Times Group, the publisher of Times of india, the largest English-language daily newspaper on the planet. By taking the reins of the local TikTok subsidiary, he brought an address book full of sports and Bollywood celebrities, who were quick to take on the game and post videos every day “, says Santosh Kumar.

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