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Chinese Short Video-Sharing Apps Invade Smartphone Users

WhatsApp with over 300 million users in India has become the one-stop shop for the circulation of videos

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To their horror, the titillating videos made on these apps have now found a bigger mobile-based messaging medium. Pixabay

These may be exciting times for Chinese short video-sharing apps that have invaded smartphone users, especially in the Tier III and IV towns in India. But the steep rise in the popularity of apps like Tik Tok, Likee, Vigo Video and others has left the government as well as citizens baffled for one simple reason: An unabated rise in explicit, crass and inappropriate videos.

To their horror, the titillating videos made on these apps have now found a bigger mobile-based messaging medium to corrupt young minds: Facebook-owned WhatsApp.

WhatsApp with over 300 million users in India has become the one-stop shop for the circulation of videos showing scantily-clad girls dancing to vulgar tunes, adult jokes and explicit “funny” messages presented by homely girls being created in the narrow dingy by-lanes of small towns on such Chinese apps.

Although tech firms claim to have smart algorithms and Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based systems along with human teams in place to check objectionable content, it is fast spreading.

Chinese, Video, Sharing
These may be exciting times for Chinese short video-sharing apps that have invaded smartphone users. Pixabay

Both WhatsApp and TikTok went silent over queries sent to them. Tik Tok directed us to an old statement that “we are committed to continuously enhancing our safety features as a testament to our ongoing commitment to our users in India”.

According to Pavan Duggal, country’s top cyber law expert and a senior Supreme Court advocate, the only way to stop massive circulation of vulgar videos on mobile applications is to address the issue of intermediary liability.

“The Section 67 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 makes the transmission or publication or causing to be published or transmitted in the electronic form – any information, which is lascivious or which appeals to the prurient interests or the effect of which is tend to deprave or corrupt the minds of those who are likely to see, read or hear the matter contained or embodied in it – as an offence,” informed Duggal.

However, it is only a bailable offence and does not have any deterrent effect.

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“The lack of any effective prosecution under Section 67 has let the people believe that they can circulate vulgar videos with impunity. Hence, the responsibility needs to be put on the service providers that the moment they are notified about any such offensive or vulgar videos on their platforms, they are duty bound to remove the same,” Duggal told IANS.

In Shreya Singhal v/s Union of India case in 2015, Supreme Court struck down section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 which provided provisions for the arrest of those who posted allegedly offensive content on the Internet, upholding freedom of expression.

According to Duggal who is also Chairman, International Commission on Cyber Security Law, the restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court need to be re-looked as the service providers are misinterpreting the provisions of the said judgment.

The Madras High Court wants a ban on TikTok, saying it spoils the future of youths and minds of children.

Chinese, Video, Sharing
But the steep rise in the popularity of apps like Tik Tok, Likee, Vigo Video and others has left the government as well as citizens baffled for one simple reason. Pixabay

On its part, TikTok says it has stopped allowing users below 13 years to login and create an account on the platform.

“With the help of machine learning algorithms, videos can be screened as they are posted, with objectionable content removed even before a user reports it, in some instances.

“As a testament of our zero tolerance policy on objectionable content, to date, we have removed over 6 million videos that have violated our Terms of Use and Community Guidelines,” it adds.

However, the rate at such improper videos are being generated, the efforts are not enough.

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“The government must amend the Indian Information Technology Act, 2000 to specifically making tech companies liable for corrupting the minds of young Indians who get swayed by such explicit videos and may commit crimes,” Duggal emphasised.

Failure to comply with norms should attract severe punishment of five to seven years and fine of Rs 20 lakh-Rs 30 lakh for the tech companies in order to bring in appropriate deterrent effect, noted the Supreme Court advocate. (IANS)

Next Story

Facebook Preparing Launch of Serious Competitor to Short Video-Sharing App TikTok

Announced last week, Facebook's NPE team is aimed at developing experimental apps for consumers who are still slightly removed

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Facebook, TikTok, Video
With Facebook roping in former Google employee Jason Toff for a key portfolio, speculation is rife about the social networking giant preparing the launch of a serious competitor. Pixabay

With Facebook roping in former Google employee Jason Toff for a key portfolio, speculation is rife about the social networking giant preparing the launch of a serious competitor to the short video-sharing app TikTok.

Toff, who earlier served as the General Manager for Twitter’s short-video sharing service Vine, has joined as Facebook’s Product Management Director to lead the company’s recently formed New Product Experimentation (NPE) team.

“I suppose it’s a good time to share what I’m up to next! In two weeks, I’ll be joining Facebook as a PM Director starting up a new initiative under the recently formed NPE team,” Toff announced on Twitter on Monday.

Announced last week, Facebook’s NPE team is aimed at developing experimental apps for consumers who are still slightly removed from the core Facebook brand.

Facebook, TikTok, Video

Toff, who earlier served as the General Manager for Twitter’s short-video sharing service Vine, has joined as Facebook’s Product Management Director. Pixabay

In Google, Toff worked on Virtual Reality (VR) projects as well as on Google’s in-house Area 120 incubator — which is similar in concept to Facebook’s NPE team, The Verge reported.

While Toff said he could not reveal details of what he is working on, his Twitter post mentioned he is looking to hire a team of UX designers and engineers to work on the project.

The world’s largest social media platform last week announced that it will begin to launch new consumer-focused apps under the developer name “NPE Team, from Facebook.”

“NPE Team apps will be aligned with Facebook’s mission of giving people the power to build community but will focus on shipping entirely new experiences. We decided to use this separate brand name to help set the appropriate expectations with users that NPE Team apps will change very rapidly and will be shut down if we learn that they’re not useful to people,” Facebook said.

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Owned by Beijing-based start-up ByteDance, TikTok saw its first-time installs grow about 28 per cent year-over-year for the first half of 2019 to nearly 344 million worldwide despite a two-week ban in India during Q2, revealed an estimate by mobile app intelligence firm Sensor Tower. (IANS)