Wednesday March 20, 2019
Home India TikTok Addict...

TikTok Addicted India Before Elections

The backlash comes as social media companies face increased scrutiny from authorities over fake news and undesirable content ahead of the polls. A federal proposal will mandate them to swiftly remove "unlawful" content when asked.

0
//
The logo of the TikTok application is seen on a screen in this picture illustration taken Feb. 21, 2019. VOA

A video clip shot on a sparse rooftop of what looks like a low-rise apartment block shows a young Indian man swaying while lip-syncing a song praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Describing himself as a proud Indian with the online identity “garrytomar”, he is wearing ear-studs and shows a beaded necklace under a partly unbuttoned shirt in the 15-second clip.

“Modi has single-handedly trounced everyone … Modi is a storm, you all now know,” goes the Hindi song, posted on Chinese video mobile application TikTok, the latest digital platform to grip India’s small towns and villages ahead of a general election due by May.

Created by Beijing Bytedance Technology, one of the world’s most valuable start-ups potentially worth more than $75 billion, TikTok allows users to create and share short videos with various special effects. It is becoming hugely popular in rural India, home to most of the country’s 1.3 billion people.

TikTok
TikTok is fast catching up: it has been downloaded more than 240 million times in India so far, according to app analytics firm Sensor Tower. VOA

Social media platforms such as Facebook, its unit WhatsApp and Twitter are extensively being used by Indian politicians for campaigning ahead of the election: Facebook’s 300 million users and WhatsApp’s 200 million have made India their largest market in the world, while Twitter too has millions of users.

TikTok is fast catching up: it has been downloaded more than 240 million times in India so far, according to app analytics firm Sensor Tower. More than 30 million users in India installed it last month, 12 times more than in January 2018.

“Most urban elites haven’t heard of TikTok and those who have, tend to view it as a platform for trivial content. In reality, it hosts diverse content including a fair share of political speech,” said Kailas Karthikeyan, a New Delhi-based technology analyst who has tracked TikTok for nine months.

TikTok’s video-only interface makes it less elaborate and easier to use compared to platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, making it a bigger attraction in rural India, he added.

Political interest

While Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress party have not officially joined TikTok, videos tagged #narendramodi have received more than 30 million views and those about Congress chief Rahul Gandhi (#rahulgandhi) have got nearly 13 million hits. Total views for political videos is far higher.

Amit Malviya, the BJP’s chief of information technology, said the party was tracking TikTok conversations and it was “abrilliant medium for creative expression”. The party, however, has no plans as of now to officially join the platform, he said.

social media
Social media platforms such as Facebook, its unit WhatsApp and Twitter are extensively being used by Indian politicians for campaigning ahead of the election: Facebook’s 300 million users and WhatsApp’s 200 million have made India their largest market in the world, while Twitter too has millions of users. Pixabay

A Congress source said the party was exploring joining TikTok and assessing how it could be used to better reach out to people in rural areas in the run-up to the election.

Not all political videos on TikTok seek votes. Some videos show people waving the Congress flag on Indian streets. Another clip shows Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on a stage, with a Hindi-language rustic voiceover of her saying she will marry the Indian leader.

“I would die with him and live with him,” the Merkel voice impersonator declares in the video.

In another TikTok post, Modi fan Yogesh Saini says the prime minister is his world, moments before opening his jacket toreveal a video of Modi on his chest.

Saini, 23, isn’t affiliated to any political party, but says: “It’s my job to support Modi-ji, so I’m doing that,” using the honorific Indian suffix. He spoke to Reuters from the small town of Sawai Madhopur in the desert state of Rajasthan.

Scrutiny, backlash

Jokes, dance clips and videos related to India’s thriving movie industry dominate the platform. #Bollywood tagged videos have nearly 13 billion views and the app is also flooded with memes, as well as videos on cooking.

TikTok, though, is facing opposition from some quarters.

The information technology minister of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, M. Manikandan, said he will urge the federal government to ban the app as some content was “very unbearable.”

“Young girls and everybody is behaving very badly. Sometimes the body language is very bad, and (people are) doing mimicry of political leaders very badly,” Manikandan told Reuters.

A Hindu nationalist group close to Modi’s BJP too has called for a ban on TikTok.

TikTok said it respects local laws and there was “no basis” for the concerns. Promoting a safe and positive in-app environment was its “top priority,” it said.

The backlash comes as social media companies face increased scrutiny from authorities over fake news and undesirable content ahead of the polls. A federal proposal will mandate them to swiftly remove “unlawful” content when asked.

Also Read:Patients With Hard-To-Treat Depression, A New Drug ‘Special K’ At Rescue

A senior government official in New Delhi said the government wants TikTok to comply with the new Indian regulations as and when they kick in, but there wasn’t any immediate concern on content.

Still, the government has asked the Chinese company to have better checks in place to ensure its users are aged above 12, which is recommended by the app itself, the official said. (VOA)

Next Story

Increased Usage of Digital Media Can Lead to Depression in Young Adults

Moreover, research shows that young people are not sleeping as much as they did in previous generations

0
carbon, digital
Multiple apps are displayed on an iPhone in New York.. VOA

Increased use of digital media may be partly responsible for the growth in the percentage of young adults experiencing certain types of mental health disorders in the US over the past decade, suggests new research.

“More US adolescents and young adults in the late 2010s, versus the mid-2000s, experienced serious psychological distress, major depression or suicidal thoughts, and more attempted suicide,” said lead study author Jean Twenge, Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University in the US.

“These trends are weak or non-existent among adults 26 years and over, suggesting a generational shift in mood disorders instead of an overall increase across all ages,” Twenge added.

For the study, the researchers analysed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a nationally representative survey that has tracked drug and alcohol use, mental health and other health-related issues in individuals aged 12 and over in the US since 1971.

They looked at survey responses from more than 200,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 from 2005 to 2017, and almost 400,000 adults aged 18 and over from 2008 to 2017.

Social Media, digital, Encryption, drink, whatsapp, depression
Study Links Social Media Addicts, Substance Abusers. (VOA)

The rate of individuals reporting symptoms consistent with major depression in the last 12 months increased 52 per cent in adolescents from 2005 to 2017 – from 8.7 per cent to 13.2 per cent — and 63 per cent in young adults aged 18 to 25 from 2009 to 2017 – from 8.1 per cent to 13.2 per cent, showed the findings published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

“Cultural trends in the last 10 years may have had a larger effect on mood disorders and suicide-related outcomes among younger generations compared with older generations,” said Twenge.

Also Read- Concerns Rise Over China’s Stand at United Nations Human Rights Council

She believes this trend may be partially due to increased use of electronic communication and digital media, which may have changed modes of social interaction enough to affect mood disorders.

Moreover, research shows that young people are not sleeping as much as they did in previous generations, she noted. (IANS)